Duke Lacrosse Vindication?

The Duke Lacrosse case... troubling on so many levels, this Tom Wolfe hybrid between Bonfire of the Vanities and I Am Charlotte Simmons.

I'm a little surprised that more news stations haven't dug up the old videos -- the vigils, the protests, the lynch mob mentality (you can slice that irony with a knife), the flyers with the photos of the entire lacrosse team posted up around the Duke campus with the "Wanted" brand on the bottom, and the New Black Panther Party showing up with loudspeakers shouting "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!"

The newspapers have been running the story of this reversal of fortune over the last couple of days, but the coverage of this vindication can never match the intensity of those first few weeks of the accusations. Remember the Newsweek cover with the mug shots of two of the players? I wonder if Newsweek will be devoting another edition to the most recent events...

I also wonder how this will affect the players' lives down the road. One of them, David Evans, was indicted the day after he graduated. Think about that for a second. On the day he received his college diploma -- a day that should be remembered as one celebrating a great achievement -- he was thinking about whether a grand jury would return an indictment against him.

I have to imagine their job prospects have been affected. As a de facto matter, they were proven innocent.  The fact that the charges were dropped outright, that Nifong was accused of being a rogue prosecutor (by the attorney general's office, no less), that the investigation found no evidence that the attack ever happened, makes them more than "not guilty."  That may seem like semantics, but within the criminal justice system, this isn't just a "not guilty."  It's a "they didn't do it."

Still, will an employer really want to hire one of those guys when there are other qualified candidates to choose from?  There's significant baggage following them wherever they go, in whatever line of work they choose, and that is unfortunate.

I think civil suits are inevitable. Against the county, the city, probably even the university.  I'm sure the general counsel's office at Duke is already preparing for it.  There isn't a settlement in the world that can get them back their reputations, but the process -- forcing people to answer for their actions -- will be valuable. (Not that the lacrosse players are saints. You give up some of your sterling reputation when you invite strippers into your house, but morally that's in a whole different ballpark from rape.)

I'm fascinated that this case remains so polarizing. Some recent push-back by Terry Moran at abcnews.com ("Don't Feel Too Sorry for the Dukies"):

As students of Duke University or other elite institutions, these young men will get on with their privileged lives. There is a very large cushion under them--the one that softens the blows of life for most of those who go to Duke or similar places, and have connections through family, friends and school to all kinds of prospects for success. They are very differently situated in life from, say, the young women of the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Really? I've seen nothing but an outpouring of support and sympathy for the Rutgers women since they were called names (which, while undoubtedly painful for some of them, isn't quite the same as being falsely accused of rape). I'll be curious to see who has an easier time getting on with their lives.