Reasonable doubt rears its head. From an article in The New Yorker:
It was also learned that the photo identification of the three players Nifong indicted was the result of a procedure so problematic that it may prove not to have been worth the effort. After the failure of the first two tries at getting an identification, Nifong instructed police to compile a photographic lineup consisting only of lacrosse players, and to ask the accuser if she recognized her attackers. That process (which Osborn described as “a multiple-choice test with no wrong answers”) seems to have been a violation of the Durham Police Department’s own rules.
I don’t know what happened at the party. But I know the photo IDs are essential to the DA’s case against the three accused Lacrosse players. And this was clearly a bad ID. There are standard procedures for running IDs, designed to protect innocent people from being railroaded; these procedures were ignored, and the ID has no reliability. Under those circumstances, I don’t see how anyone – including those who are sure Mary Doe was raped – could be certain beyond reasonable doubt that these three men raped her.
I’ve said a few times in the past that although I think Mary Doe was raped at that party, I also recognize that I could be mistaken about that. And I continue to believe that many of the arguments supporting the “Mary Doe is a liar” case – that her initial statements to police were jumbled and incoherent, that she’s a stripper, and that she also reported being gang-raped many years ago, for three examples – are not only garbage, but are based in dangerous, harmful myths about rape. All of these complaints are variations of The Myth Of The Platonic Rape Victim – the idea we should imagine a perfect rape victim, and then ask if the complainant’s behavior and statements match what our imaginary perfect rape victim would have done and said. The Platonic Rape Victim’s statements are never incoherent, contradictory or inaccurate; the Platonic Rape Victim is not raped twice in one lifetime; the Platonic Rape Victim is certainly not a stripper!
On the other hand, some of the new evidence – in particular, the recent public statements of the other stripper, essentially accusing Mary Doe of making the whole thing up – seems to be to provide much more substantial reason for doubt.
I stand by most of my past posts on this subject. But I no longer believe Mary Doe was raped that night. (Nor do I believe she wasn’t raped. I’m now an agnostic on this question.)
There are two questions to consider here: First, “Did a rape happen?” and second, “Is there enough evidence to prove in a courtroom that these particular three men committed rape?” I don’t know the answer to the first question. But – especially in light of the bad ID – I think the answer to the second question is “no.”