Sure, the three Duke men's lacrosse players accused falsely of raping a stripper have had the remaining charges against them dropped. But justice wasn't done.
Sure, Michael Nifong may get disbarred or worse for hiding evidence that would have exonerated the lacrosse players, or for generally conducting himself in an unprofessional manner for the sake of winning an election. But justice wasn't done.
Sure, the stripper who accused the three players has been discredited and will be mocked rightly by columnists, pundits, and late night talk show hosts. But justice wasn't done.
Sure, the Duke faculty who sided against the players without checking into the hard facts are more than a little embarassed at making so public a scene at something that proved to be nothing. But justice wasn't done.
The comedy of errors that was the Duke lacrosse rape case hasn't reached an end. It's only reached a temporary stopping point. Here's what I mean.
- The accused players, especially the three accused of the more serious crimes, won't be able to get their reputations back. For the duration of the scandal, they were maligned by members of the press, members of the Duke University faculty, and members of the Duke University student body. No matter how hard they work or how many times they repeat that all the charges were dropped, there will still be that percentage of people who will think they raped that stripper and got off because of their parents' money.
- The players' legal fees have reached around $3 million. We can demand Nifong or the stripper pay these or that Duke University or the state of North Carolina pay these, but it won't do any good because all we'd be doing is shifting responsibility for who should pay the fees. And let's face it, one bankruptcy filing by Nifong or the stripper and the players won't see one red cent if they go back against one or both of them for the legal fees.
- Duke University's men's lacrosse team lost three members and at least part if not all of their season. Having played sports in high school, I can tell you there is no greater feeling than representing your school in an athletic endeavor. That got stripped from many of the members of the team, not just the accused.
- Duke University brought shame on itself with a ham-handed attempt to discuss the case without naming names. The faculty who signed the open letter regarding this matter should be ashamed that the would defile their place of employment, one with a pretty good law school from what I've heard, by ignoring the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Apparently, they thought quelling a perceived desire for African-American students to rise up and protest was more important than doing right by the accused.
- Race and class relations in Raleigh-Durham took a beating. How many people thought the students in question were guilty merely because they were rich and white? How many people think the students got off not because they were innocent, but because their parents paid off somebody? How many people will disregard the stripper's lack of credibility and constantly changing story because the accused were "spoiled white boys"?
No, justice wasn't done with the dropping of the charges. The best we can hope for is a return to something resembling normality. But for the accused, they've lost far more than what the American legal system can ever give back.