- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In his book “The Great Crash 1929,” John Kenneth Galbraith said: “The worst continued to worsen.” The same can be said of the Duke University “rape” case and District Attorney Michael Nifong.

After all this time, it finally came out in court last week that the DNA samples collected from the underwear and private parts of the woman who claimed she was a victim contained DNA from other men — but none from the Duke lacrosse players accused of raping her. The DNA testing laboratory’s chief testified in court under oath that both he and Mr. Nifong knew this and kept it secret.

Incredible? How about a statement afterward by Mr. Nifong that he didn’t say anything about this publicly because he was “trying to avoid dragging any names through the mud”?

He certainly did not avoid dragging the names of the Duke lacrosse players through the mud. He not only denounced them, they were paraded in handcuffs in front of the national media. Their pictures were on every television news program across the country.

If these young men get completely exonerated, this episode will still follow them the rest of their lives. Yet they have not been convicted of anything and have not even gone to trial — which is scheduled for next spring, if it ever takes place. Indeed, they have not even been interviewed by the police or by the district attorney who denounced these white lacrosse players when he was running for office and making a play for the black vote.

Nor has the district attorney interviewed the woman who claimed to have been raped. In a “he said, she said” situation, anyone interested in the credibility of the two sides would at least have tried to find out what specifically they claimed. But that is only if you care about the truth, rather than the politics. Politically, the district attorney had a black woman who claimed white men raped her. That’s all he needed to get elected.

Mr. Nifong has shown from day one what he was interested in. Showing the “rape” victim only photographs of white Duke lacrosse players was a violation of basic lineup principles. People known to be innocent are included in lineups just to test the credibility of whoever is identifying those picked out as guilty. If you pick out somebody known to have been overseas at the time, there goes your credibility. But District Attorney Nifong was not about to risk having the accuser’s credibility tested, and certainly not before his election.

All the evidence that has come out has pointed the other way. One of the accused has a paper trail showing he wasn’t even there when he was supposed to have raped the “exotic dancer.” A black cabdriver says he was with him, going to a bank’s ATM to get some money — and bank records show him there at the time he was supposed to be committing rape.

Confronted with the fact DNA tests failed to show any of the Duke lacrosse players’ DNA was present on the “exotic dancer,” Mr. Nifong said that they could have used condoms.

Every part of your body has DNA that is left wherever you have had bodily contact. When you shake someone’s hand, you leave your DNA. Each Duke student would have to have had a giant condom covering his whole body to avoid leaving DNA on someone he raped.

Far more is involved in this case than the misdeeds of one district attorney. There is a segment of the black community — a small segment, we can hope — that figures it is payback time for all the black men who have been railroaded to jail on trumped-up charges involving the rape of white women.

The local branch of the NAACP, an organization that fought such injustices in times past, has thrown its weight behind those trying to railroad three white students, who were not even born when these other injustices occurred. Winston Churchill once said, “If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost.” Nowhere is that truer than when dealing with the explosive mixture of race and politics.

Mr. Nifong deserves to be removed from office and disbarred. If he gets away with all this, it will be a blank check for every prosecutor in the country to abuse the powers of the office.

Thomas Sowell is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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