Everyone Guilty in Duke Rape Case

May 10, 2006


I’ve watched with both amusement and bemusement the proceedings in the Duke lacrosse rape investigation. Amusement at the alleged victim’s defenders who try and portray her as a good mother and hard-working student, and bemusement at what type of young man you must be to find yourself at the center of such sordid rape allegations.


Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, the accused, are certainly no choirboys. Finnerty, in particular, seems to have a disturbing and dangerous macho mentality which we so often see exacerbated by the pack psychology of college and pro athletes. This is the mentality that delights in the torment and domination of those smaller and weaker. Finnerty, it seems, is just this type of bully. Because of these rape allegations, Finnerty is now being forced to revisit an assault case from November in which he entered a diversion program after he and two friends beat up another man while shouting anti-gay epithets. It wouldn’t seem Finnerty has ever taken much time to empathize with or show respect to others, precisely why he finds himself in such a nightmarish predicament.


As someone who has slept with close to one hundred women (move over, Wilt) in various phases of sobriety, drunkenness, outright incoherence, and all points in between, I still have never been accused of rape. This, I think, speaks to the fact that despite my many failings, at the bottom of it all, I have a good heart and a fundamental respect for others. Even in my darkest moments of drunken foolishness, I don’t force myself on women.


Whether this fundamental decency is due to my upbringing (two great parents and two sisters), my environment, or sheer luck, it’s evident that several of the Duke lacrosse players are devoid of said decency. I don’t presume to know what went on the night of March 13th when the alleged rape took place, but it’s clear that at least some of the players in attendance were repugnant and loathsome animals. Threatening the strippers with penetration with a broomstick—though I, too, sometimes have odious and degrading fantasies, there are some you simply don’t act upon—suggests that the “pack mentality” was in full swing, as do the racial slurs that were reportedly hurled at the strippers. Ryan McFayden, whose vile e-mail about killing and skinning women while he ejaculated in his Duke-issued spandex was made public shortly after the accusations, is not someone I would want dating my daughter.


All that having been said, it is becoming more and more likely with each passing day that no rape occurred. While prosecutor Mike Nifong insists he has evidence, Reade Seligmann has produced what seems to be a pretty solid alibi, and the accuser’s credibility has taken a sizable hit. Aside from the fact that she made a prior accusation in 1993, claiming that she was raped by three men, it’s evident that this woman has something of a past.


She led police on a high-speed chase in a stolen car one night several years ago while drunk and driving on a revoked license, and finished this night of good clean fun by trying to run over the arresting officer. She had the first of her two children with one man while married to another, and by all accounts was looped out of her mind on the night of the alleged rape. This woman is not Shirley Temple. While this, in and of itself, shouldn’t keep prosecutors from sending these lacrosse players away for a long time if they raped this woman, her story seems shaky.


So this seems like a good time to dispel the laughable notion posited by the accuser’s defenders that she was simply a good mother and hard-working student who deigned to strip in order to take care of her family. This is highly unlikely.


Trust me, I know of what I speak. As one who bartended at a strip club on the notorious Eight Mile Road in Detroit, I’m here to tell you that despite the hokum the Dr. Phils of the world will try and shove down your throat about the inherent strong moral fiber of strippers—“They’re just good people trying to feed their families”—the truth is quite the opposite. On any given night, I could have (and often did) taken home virtually any of the strippers working. The vast majority had children out of wedlock, slept with numerous co-workers, accepted money for sexual favors in the parking lot, were substance abusers, and carried firearms. Don’t piss down my leg and tell me it’s raining. Indeed, besides the criminal past of the alleged victim in this case, her co-stripper at the lacrosse party was convicted in 2001 of embezzling $25,000 from a photofinishing company where she worked!!! The world of escort services doesn’t attract the best and the brightest.


This case is a sad and ugly episode, but one thing is becoming eminently clear–while all involved may not be getting what they deserve, they are certainly getting what they asked for.