After last week’s dramatic conclusions to the Sinclair and Tate cases, this story from Vanity Fair reminds us of the so-called “Duke Rape Case,” that arose from a stripper’s false allegation of rape against three members of the Duke lacrosse team. The Vanity Fair story talks about one team member who wasn’t charged with rape, but who is still fighting to get his life back on track.

And from the article:

For what was subsequently adjudged to be his many shortcomings in the handling of the Duke lacrosse case, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong was fired from office, was disbarred and was sentenced to one day in jail—the only person who spent any time in jail in connection with the case.

26 Responses to “The lifelong consequences of a false allegation”

  1. Michael Lowrey says:

    Worth noting that the accuser in the Duke lacrosse case is currently in prison serving 14 years+ on a second-degree murder conviction.

  2. DCGoneGalt says:

    Crystal Mangum, 2% Hall of Famer.  A complainant only a convening authority could love.  

  3. af_dc says:

    The deck may be stacked against the accused in the military, but every now and then I have to remind myself that at least our special investigators have not resorted to suspect-only lineups.

  4. DCGoneGalt says:

    Until Proven Innocent is an excellent book on the Duke feeding frenzy that any military justice practitioner will recognize.  Assume first, ask questions never.

  5. J.M. says:

    @af_dc: Maybe not yet, but I have personal experience of CID bringing a witness to watch a suspect outside his home just before a lineup.

    I would love to see more attention focused on the trials and tribulations of a falsely accused mil member and the 2nd and 3rd order effects on his career. Not to mention the difficulties they have readjusting to life in uniform after a false accusation.

  6. falsely accused says:

    There is no life ‘in uniform’ when you’ve been falsely accused. In the military they just stamp the case file “send to admin”, then rubber stamp it from there on while you spend your last dime, lose your family, alienated by friends and coworkers, and when you fight back they violate DoD issuances by threatening and intimidating you for using your rights under the 1st amendment. goodbye reputation, career, retirement, medical care, way of life.
    I can’t talk about lineups but I can assuredly and concretely talk about evidence hiding by investigators, lying by investigators, jags and commanders and gutless people in the chain refusing to say a word.
    Someone told me “it’s not personal”…let me tell you something, when it affects your reputation, your family, their medical care, where kids go to school, retirement, paycheck, bill paying, your own medical care, your career and your path in life…it doesn’t get more personal. 

  7. ResIpsaLoquitur says:

    There’s also Brian Banks, the football player who did 5 years until the accuser recanted.  Oops.  Well, public policy’s gotta come first….

  8. Zachary D Spilman says:

    The Banks case was discussed in this post: Why would anyone lie about being a victim of sexual assault?

  9. Charlie Gttins says:

    Or, more recently on this forum, Captain Nick Stewart, whose conviction was overturned on double jeopardy grounds.  The Marine Corps requires application of “the rack” before they make any effort to restore him to all the indignities he suffered as a result of the violation of his constitutional rights.  You’d think that an organization that touts itself as one of integrity and whose members swear to support the Constitution would bend over backwards to make things right for an officer wrongfully convicted in violation of the Constitution that the Commandant and his stooges swore to uphold.  But then, you’d be wrong.  Although his conviction was overturned and charges dismissed with prejudice, his removal from the promotion list for FY 11 was not only not set aside, the BCNR failed to remove the deemed failure of promotion that was occasioned solely by reason of the unlawful conviction.  Well, Nick is done playing the game; he is in DDC seeking vindication of his rights to be restored and made whole by a federal judge who can read the law, understands due process and can recognize when it has been denied, and actually apply it to the facts.       

  10. af_dc says:

    J.M., that is egregious. I hope you won that case.

  11. stewie says:

    af_dc…ummm, actually, they have in the past. I had a show-up occur in a rape case.  It was so bad the MJ wouldn’t allow the AV to identify the accused in court by pointing or naming (they didn’t know each other).  It ended up an acquittal, but point is, it does happen.

  12. phil cave says:

    Not always a life sentence.  Depends on how long the person lives.
    Of course we must remember that the lives of the accused – false or otherwise don’t matter.

  13. DMZ says:

    Actions have consequences and as we all know, life’s a bitch.  Sometimes, you need your comeuppance to know that you can’t sleepwalk through life writing jacked up emails and being oblivious to the world around you.  Poor kid’s Duke bubble burst a little early, oh well.  His classmates are probably still sleepwalkig through life until they face impending catastrophe (or a big bailout).  At least he has well-heeled friends to get him jobs with their father’s companies.  Most people in life don’t get to rebuild.

  14. af_dc says:

    DMZ, you seem to be saying that because McFayden was wealthy and privileged, and also because he wrote a stupid email referencing American Psycho, he deserves to be falsely accused of rape and assault by a woman seeking a large payout. In other words, the logical and appropriate consequence of writing a violent, misogynist (albeit allegedly satirical) email and being a rich kid at Duke is being falsely accused of one of the most serious crimes recognized by our society. Is that what you’re saying? I am asking on the off-chance that you are not 100% trolling.

  15. k fischer says:

    You know, that’s the way I feel about the complaining witness in the Sinclair case.  Actions have consequences and life’s a bitch.  She broke the law by engaging in an affair with her superior and, even worse, by referring to him as “Poppa Panda Sexy Pants.”  So what if he actually forced her to blow him twice.  It’s not like she had never slurped on his johnson before.  I mean what’s the difference?  Where’s the aggravation?  Just once more for good ole’ time’s sake.  
    And take the complaining witness in the Tate case.  I mean she banged two football players within a few hours before getting with Tate, right?  I mean, its not like she was a virgin.  What’s a third man inside her, particularly if she couldn’t remember.  Like most perma-victims, she’s just going to sleepwalk through life until she faces the impending catastrophe of her next rape.  
    These two should look at the bright side.  They’ll get to file their VA claim for MST and get 100%.
    If the logic of the post above sounds stupid, its based on the same logic you use to minimize and blame the victims in the Duke Lacrosse case, which I can agree to a certain extent. The e-mails are very unbecoming and disturbing.  However, it sounds like you are saying that it was about time some rich white kid got a little taste of injustice.

  16. J.M. says:

    @af_dc: I won’t call it a win. It cost me close to 20k for a civ lawyer that had resources my TDS could only dream about (this is not a criticism of my TDS, but of what he could do while I was only a ‘suspect’). And during the process I received 3 career ending NCOERs and a Field grade ART 15 for adultery after charges were dismissed.

    It was a long drawn out process and I’m still angry that it took my civ lawyer to find witnesses and evidence that CID should have tripped over on day one.

    BTW, long time lurker here. And I’d like to thank everyone here. When I was originally accused, I was advised not to spend too much time on the internet looking up information, which I promptly disregarded. This site and the posters here provided alot of useful information (even if I had to frequently google legal terms) and I still enjoy having it on my daily reading list.

    Speaking from my perspective, I would much prefer to see Art 120 cases referred to civilian jurisdictions. Being told by by my BN CDR that ‘Nobody thinks you did it, but we have to prefer charges because it’s a rape case’ was demoralizing at best.

    A few more final thoughts and words of advice from a former client. I know that when a mil member is only a ‘suspect’ there is very little that a TDS attorney (or civ for that matter) can do. And I know that you have higher priotity clients. But it is very helpful to get regular updates and contact from my lawyers, even if it was to report that there was nothing to report. And being available, even just to listen to their client vent made a huge difference in my mental well being to know that there was someone out there that was on my side that I could speak with frankly. I found out it was very difficult to build a rapport with someone from beh health when their obvious body language (not to mention gripping the panic button throughout the session) makes you come away feeling worse then going in. I know most of you probably haven’t considered that aspect of the attorney/client relationship but oftentimes you are all we have to rely on.

    One last piece of advice for the civilian attorneys; When I started looking for a civilian lawyer, I filled out contact emails for a number of attorneys. I recieved a number of replies with that same theme; ‘TDS attorneys are either incompetent/corrupt/don’t care’ ‘Court martials have a 95% conviction rate’ ‘If you trust TDS, you will end up getting convicted and spend the rest of your life as a registered sex offender’ ‘It will take a minimum of $5,000 retainer to take you case, not counting travel and court fees’ All of those emails were promptly deleted.

    The one lawyer (who is a frequent poster here) out of my intial contact efforts that didn’t respond with a scare tactic, mention money straight out or make a false promise was unable due to location to take my case, but put me in touch with a colleague that was able to help me. This is something that I suggest you keep in mind when dealing with potential clients in the future.

  17. Neutron73 says:

    @Charlie Gittins,
    You know as well as I do that the Marine Corps “talks a big game” about integrity and “taking care of their own” but that is just about it;  TALK.  The USMC could not possibly care any less about its individual Marines and Sailors.  It’s all about promoting an “image”, enhancing the “reputation” of the Marine Corps, and putting out pretty press clippings.  If the Corps needs to sacrifice a few lambs along the way to achieve aforementioned aims?  So be it.  Those who are sacrificed should know they are “privileged” that we, the Marine Corps, allowed them to call themselves Marines, and they will gladly fall on the sword we provide them.

  18. Dew_Process says:

    One of the things that came about as a result of the “Duke” case was that it opened the eyes of many in the legal academy to the seamier side of the criminal justice system, i.e., the systemic violations if Bradyand frauds perpetrated upon the courts. That resulted in a fair amount of legal scholarship, but as exoneration after exoneration shows, this has not filtered down to the decision-makers.  Yes, there are ethical and courageous prosecutors – the one who quit the Sinclair prosecution being the most recent and prominent.
    Prof. Robert Mosteller of Duke Law, a great thinker and author in the contexts of applyingthe law in courtrooms [he had been a defense attorney before heading to academia, and if you’ve done any research on forensic evidence, you’ll recognize his name], authored an excellent analysis of the Duke case and Nifong’s disbarment, entitled:  EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE, ETHICS, AND THE ROAD TO THE DISBARMENT OF MIKE NIFONG: THE CRITICAL IMPORTANCE OF FULL OPEN-FILE DISCOVERY,  available here:

    Take a few minutes to read this article – professionally, it’s worth your time just for the cerebral stimulation whether you agree or not.

  19. DMZ says:

    At the risk of being falsely accused of trolling, all I’m saying is that this kid has suffered a fate no worse than anyone who ever got rejected for a job because they posted stupid photos on facebook.  Or at least that’s how this article paints it, when you boil it all down to its basics.  His Duke friends went on to Wall Street, he didn’t.  But unlike many folks who have had their reputations destroyed by the media, he has friends with dads who will still employ him.  My hope is that he is wiser for his ordeal.  And by wiser, I mean that one cannot maintain a glib “American Psycho” attitude (real or merely effected), and expect things to come up roses.  This kid did avoid a far worse fate than, say, some military accused, because Nifong got what he had coming to him, as did Mangum.  I’m just not all that moved by an attempt to play the “victim” card for this kid, because there are plenty of real victims in this world, some who served a lifetime in jail before being exhonerated or still others who were executed.  Methinks perspective is the key.  Consider this trolling af_dc, or just some fodder for discussion. 

  20. DMZ says:

    And let me add this, the fact that Nifong even thought to charge this kid with “conspiracy to commit murder” is so outlandish that I actually think Nifong got off easy as well.

  21. JTS says:

    @J.M. Thanks for sharing your story.  Its interesting for those of us who haven’t been on the TDS side yet to hear the other side’s perspective.

  22. Some Army Guy says:

    Apparently the prosecutorial misconduct is deeply rooted in Durham:

  23. anon says:

    Well put J.M..   You can never get back your reputation, your career, your family, or your sanity. And TDS atty: you might be the accuse’s only friend.
    A few years back, Paul Atterburry (USMC JAG) wrote an article entitled, “A Marine in Trouble is Never Abandoned” (Marine Gazette, Aug 2000).  It’s well written, documenting the need for leaders to remain open and look after both the victim and the accused.  Hand out copies during change of command season.

  24. Balkan Ghost says:

    This comment thread really has it all: victim blaming, slut shaming, and virginal purity tests. Great fodder on here for those arguing that the military is out of touch and needs to be changed from the outside.

  25. stewie says:

    Did you comment in the correct thread? Struggling to see the “virginal purity tests” and “slut shaming” that you see in this thread.

  26. DCGoneGalt says:

    If it is alleged victim-blaming of Mangum then there is a grave error with that allegation, namely that she is not a victim.  Instead, she was a liar and fraud who deserved to be publicly shamed along with the Duke social science (emphasis on the social) Group of 88 faculty (who are hopelessly stupid), Duke administration (especially Dr. Brodhead, who just could not stop fanning the flames of the hopelessly stupid faculty even after the truth was known), media, and other assorted hustlers who swarmed like roaches and then scattered away when the light (truth) came out.
    The book “Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case” is really something that really laid out all of the sordid details.