Recently, the Duke Men’s Lacrosse team’s run in with the law in 2006 has returned to the forefront of the news. Duke University is located in Durham, NC. Three of their players were accused of raping an exotic dancer at one of their parties. What most may not know, however, is that ESPN just released a 30 for 30 documentary, entitled “Fantastic Lies” about the events that happened that night, what went on in the court room, and the lasting affects on the families and players. March 13 was the 10 year anniversary of this national story.
Rewind to March 13, 2006. The Duke Men’s Lacrosse team was on campus for spring break and decided to get together and have a party. They wanted to “spice things up” so a few of them decided to hire two dancers to perform. They paid hundreds of dollars for these dancers. A few insensitive remarks were made, and the dancers left not even five minutes into their routine. That upset some of the men and allegedly even more remarks and threats were made. The night ended with the two dancers leaving upset, and the boys staying in the house frustrated at the dancers’ lack of performance. The girls left together and began to argue.
Crystal Mangum (one of the dancers) was asked to leave the car by her friend and when she did not comply, her friend called the police. That was when Mangum was taken to Durham Center Access because she had difficultly walking and speaking. Later, she claimed she was raped by three of the players.
“Fantastic Lies” focused on the case from the point of view of the parents of the accused players. During the investigation, Magnum was given a book of potential suspect’s photo (the lacrosse team) and she identified Reade Seligmann, David Evans, and Colin Finnerty as her attackers. The boys were arrested on charges of first-degree forcible rape, first-degree sexual offense and kidnapping. Their parents were devastated and fought like hell in court for their sons.
The three men’s DNA was tested after the identification from Magnum and when compared across to the DNA obtained from Magnum’s rape claim, it did not match. At that time, no one knew that the prosecutor (Mike Nifong) had an agreement with the DNA lab to withhold evidence from the lab report that would prove the three players to be innocent. Mangum later admitted some parts of the night were unclear, and Nifong dropped the charges against the lacrosse players.
The documentary focuses on how Nifong was so determined to convict these boys that he would go to ends length to do so. In addition, it came to light that Mangum made the entire attack up; the boys never even touched her. This case was a case of privileged vs. unprivileged and Duke vs. Durham, and that is why the media was all over it. America seemed to want nothing more than to see the preppy, waspy boys get in trouble, without even looking at the facts.
Everyone believed Mangum because who wouldn’t believe a woman who said she was raped? It was the perfect storm of events, and Nifong, along with the media, capitalized on it. The documentary opened viewer’s eyes to the foul play that can happen in the courtroom, but it also opened viewer’s eyes to instances of rape. The end of the documentary showed an interview with one of the non-accused players saying it is unfair to the women who have been accused because now not everyone will believe them.
Sexual assault is a major issue on college campuses, but not all of it is true. We all remember the UVA scandal, and the article that was released in the Rolling Stones. That woman also made up her attack without even caring about the repercussions other people might face for her accusations. It is situations like these that deter from the real victims of rape.
Rape is not something that should be questioned, but it is women who lie about their attack that cause law enforcement and media to question legitimate attacks. No woman wants to ever face something like this, but the reality is that many have. We have to all stand together as women and defend those who have had to live their life differently because one man’s, or women’s, selfish actions.