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January 12, 2007

The Durham Frame Job

I didn't read far enough into the article about the Duke accuser's changing story to realize how substantially this New Improved Accusation altered previous models.

It's worth reading. But you can, and should, just read Allah's excerpt from now. If you're like me and haven't really engaged in this story until recently (and superficially) you'll probably be baffled by, for example, this business about "psuedonyms." But read it.

The skinny: The accuser claimed that her attackers used psuedonyms during the attack-- "Adam," "Brett," and "Matt." (And, occasionally, "Dan.") This neatly explained why she couldn't name her attackers -- they were using code-names like the guys from Reseveroir Dogs.

In previous accounts, while the Mystery Men used psuedonyms, they were still nevertheless distinct, individual people. Or, rather, figments of her imagination, but let's just avoid the semantic debate and compromise on "constructs." Adam did this and this, Brett did this, Matt did this. Dan, when he actually existed, did this, and then when he didn't exist, his duties were taken over by one of the other three constructs.

After Nifong "helped" her match these constructs to living people by providing her with a photo ID lineup containing no one but Duke lacrosse players (so she couldn't possibly miss accusing a lacrosse player, even if she guessed randomly), these constructs were matched with specific, real people. Adam became -- Oh, I don't know, say Finnerty. Matt became Seligmann. Brett was the other guy. Dan was... well, Dan was a utility infielder ready to jump into the batting order whenever the manager called his number.

Seligmann always presented a problem for Nifong, and the accuser, because Seligmann had those damnable ATM receipts -- and photographs -- indicating he simply was not present during almost all of the time frame of the rape.

Now, here's the payoff. Via Maguire, I found this good blog, Durham In Wonderland. He's read the defense filings, and he explains precisely why this pseudonym business is important. He uses a three slug analysis -- "The Problem," "The Frame," and "The Mockery" -- to show how the accuser's story keeps running into an impossibility ("The Problem"), is massaged along by helpful questioning/coaching by Nifong to avoid the problem ("The Frame"), and how in each case this perjured, and possibly suborned, new testimony is virtually mocking the court by being so transparently revised, re-edited, and retro-fitted to just come within striking distance of agreeing with the known facts.

An example of what I mean: You accuse your child of stealing a cookie from the cookie jar. The child claims she couldn't have taken it, she was out playing with Sally. You point out that Sally is away with her parents in Puerto Rico ("The Problem"). She says she actually meant her friend Henrietta ("The Frame"). When you express bafflement at why she originally said she was playing with Sally, she claims, conveniently, that she's always had trouble telling the two apart, and gee willickers, always sort of thought they were the exact same person ("The Mockery").

Her New Improved Testimony -- at least the parts the defense highlights -- all reads like that. An impossibility in her testimony is demonstrated to her; she changes her story to avoid that problem; and then, to fend off the inevitable question as to why she had it so badly wrong the first few times around, she offers up a claim of being unable to tell one person from another or, absurdly enough, the difference between a "mustache" and a "five o'clock shadow."

Anyway, back to the payoff. Remember-- until now, "Adam," "Matt," and "Brett" (and sometimes "Dan") were specific, individual people. Seligmann's inconvenient alibis prove he could not perform all of the actions formerly attributed to him.

That's a problem. But not a problem Nifong and his All-Star Rape Accuser can't solve if they put their heads together.


The Problem: The Pseudonyms Failed to Match Up

1.) The defense lineup-suppression motion showed how the accuser’s assertion of Reade Seligmann was “Adam” is impossible, since Seligmann was in a cab, on his way back to his dorm after stopping off at an ATM machine, when the accuser claimed “Adam” was carrying her to Kim Roberts’ car.

2.) The March 16 descriptions the accuser gave of Brett, Matt, and Adam bore no resemblance at all to Collin Finnerty, by even the most extreme stretch of the imagination.

3.) In her now-repudiated April 6 statement, the accuser mentioned a fourth attacker, “Dan,” who Nifong never investigated.

The Frame: New Uses of Psuedonyms

In the new version of events, Seligmann is still Adam—but now the claim is that sometimes he was Matt, too. Dave Evans is still Matt—but now the claim is that sometimes he was Adam, and Brett, and Dan(!), too. And Collin Finnerty was none of the three.

Under the new tale, therefore, the “Adam” that carried the accuser to the car can be Evans, not Seligmann. The March 16 descriptions don’t match Finnerty because Finnerty was neither Brett, nor Matt, nor Adam. The mystery of “Dan” has been solved, because Dave Evans is now Dan (and Brett and Matt and Adam—and, of course, Dave).

The Mockery

It goes without saying that the accuser has never previously claimed that her attackers used either multiple pseudonyms (Evans and Seligmann) or no pseudonyms at all (Finnerty); all previous stories suggested that each attacker used one pseudonym.

Putting the December 21 version together with the accuser’s other version brings us into the theater of the absurd, as the [defense] motion explains:

While the accuser now claims that “Adam” and “Matt” were both of the names used by Reade Seligmann, she provided vastly different descriptions for “Matt” and “Adam” on March 16: “Matt was heavy set with short hair and weighs 260lbs to 270lbs while “Adam” was “short, red cheeks, fluffy hair, stubby face with brown hair. Significantly, she also described “Brett” as “chubby” and claims that she saw a picture of him in the house. Similarly she now claims that Dave Evans is “Adam” and “Brett,” even though she gave two different descriptions for Adam and Brett on March 16. In short, the accuser has provided three different descriptions for what she now claims are only two men. Of course, if the SANE interview was truthful, then Dave Evans (as “Dan” who is really “Matt”) is “Matt,” “Adam,” and “Brett,” which means that the accuser has given three different descriptions for the same person . . . [and] if the accuser’s December 21 statement is to be believed, then “Dan” and “Brett” are the same person; yet in her written statement of April 6, she claimed that she was beaten by both Dan and Brett, and never informed police that it was the same person.

And on, and on, and on...

The Problem: Dave Evans’ “Mustache”

This, like the Seligmann alibi, has been a big problem from the start. The accuser was unequivocal in the April 4 lineup session: she said that Evans had a mustache. Evans’ attorneys offered to show Nifong photos to prove he didn’t have a mustache; Nifong refused to look. The lineup motion showed the photos to the world.

The Frame: A Mustache Isn’t a Mustache

Almost as if Nifong and Linwood Wilson had been reading the TalkLeft message board, where two posters have anticipated this move for months, the accuser on December 21 claimed that when she uses “mustache” and “5 o’clock shadow” interchangeably. And when she said that the person showed to her looked just like Evans with a “mustache,” she meant that the person looked just like Evans with a 5 o’clock shadow.

The Mockery

Nifong and Wilson didn’t look at their own evidence. In the photo shown to the accuser on April 4, Evans had a 5 o’clock shadow.

Putting the December 21 version together with the accuser’s other version brings us into the theater of the absurd, as the [defense] motion explains:

Since Dave Evans had a “5 o’clock shadow” in the picture the accuser was shown on April 4, and since her response was that he “looks like him without the mustache,” her claim now that a “mustache” is not a “mustache” indicates that her statement on April 4 is, again, no longer reliable.

And that's not even getting into the New and Improved Explanations about why she had none of the men's semen in her or on her, and why she had five other men's semen in her and on her.

Oh, and, yeah: Now she claims Seligmann didn't assault her at all; he was just "encouraged" to do so, but did not. I'm sure that sudden realization -- and, hey, sometimes a traumatized woman might take months before she has the shocking epiphany, "OH MY GOD -- I WASN'T RAPED BY THAT MAN!!" -- has nothing at all to do with the fact that Seligmann has the most unassailable alibi of the three, and thus, through the steady guidance of Nifong's leading questions and cues, has thus been confined to as minimal a "role" in the "atttack" as the laws of perjury will allow. (And then maybe just a little bit more.)

Stanley Crouch has it right -- Nifong is going to take this to trial in the hopes that 1) the judge won't issue a directed verdict of innocence and 2) one angry black woman will refuse to acquit and hang the jury, thus providing Nifong with a claim of "cover" -- hey, hung jury, right? Close enough!

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posted by Ace at 04:28 AM

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