When will Duke apologize? 

No legal maxim is more sacred than that the accused is innocent until proven guilty by a jury of peers. So it was dispiriting to observe what happened last year right after newspaper stories appeared passing along sensational accusations against members of the Duke lacrosse team. No fewer than 88 Duke professors signed a statement that all but proclaimed the three young men not merely guilty of raping a young black woman, but also of being exemplars of a corrupt, privileged white culture supposedly suffocating the Duke University community.

The criminal charges that were filed against the three students were recently dropped as products of a "tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations," according to North Carolina’s attorney general. Mike Nifong, the prosecutor who filed the charges while seeking re-election, now faces charges before the state bar for what has been termed "the highest-profile prosecutorial misconduct in American history." Also on Nifong’s horizon are damage suits from the three students and their families whose lives and reputations were so grievously injured. But Nifong is hardly the only player in this tragic farce who should now be called to account.

Most vocal among the 88 professors was English professor Houston Baker, who in a public letter called for "immediate dismissals of those principally responsible for the horrors of this spring moment at Duke," including the "coaches of the lacrosse team, the team itself and its players, and any other agents who silenced or lied about" what happened. Baker demanded that this Stalinesque purge be carried out long before any court case was ever gaveled to order.

But Baker and the other 87 signers were only the most vocal members of a Duke community rushing to judgment amid a barrage of all-too-familiar accusations about America’s inherent racism and sexism. Even Duke president Richard Brodhead said, with a stunning lack of logic, that "if they didn’t do it, whatever they did is bad enough." This malodorous chorus of presuppositionally blinded academics was abetted by the mainstream media, which predictably added their own special brand of condemnation before judgement.

Where are these voices now? When will they apologize for the injuries they inflicted on three innocent young men and their families? When will Duke trustees and alumni demand an accounting for the paucity of respect among administrators and faculty for the most essential rule of criminal law? How long before journalists and media executives admit they abused their positions? These questions will not soon go away and fair-minded Americans are waiting for answers.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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