Revisiting the Duke Rape Case

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A sad, sad end:


Crystal Mangum, the woman who claimed three Duke lacrosse players raped her five years ago, could soon be facing murder charges after the man she's accused of stabbing has died. Mangum, 32, allegedly stabbed live-in boyfriend Reginald Daye, 46, during an April 3 argument. According to Durham, N.C., police, Mangum stabbed him in the torso with a kitchen knife. He was taken to Duke University Hospital and treated for serious injuries. 

Daye died Wednesday evening, according to police. "More than likely, we will be upgrading the charge to murder," Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez Sr. told The Herald Sun of Durham Wednesday.

And maybe a beginning:

Just before 4 a.m. this morning, men's lacrosse player Reade Seligmann '09 planned to lace up his running shoes, throw on a bright-yellow traffic jacket and run laps around the Main Green. Seligmann, the former Duke lacrosse suspect who was vindicated earlier this year, will be jogging for the Brown team's fall charity project: a 36-hour run-a-thon to raise funds for the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to exonerating innocent prisoners through DNA testing. 

Seligmann pitched the idea of a lacrosse team charity event for the Innocence Project even before he committed to transferring to Brown this spring. Head Coach Lars Tiffany '90 liked the idea and organized the event this fall after team members approved, much to the delight of the New York City-based organization. 

"It's an extraordinary thing that (Seligmann) and the whole team are doing," said Eric Ferrero, the Innocence Project's communications director. "That's money that will let us take additional clients and conduct additional DNA testing on behalf of our clients who are currently in prison fighting to prove their innocence."

That last link is old, but I thought it was important to bring up. First, I missed it when it happened. But more then that I think it would have been all too human for Seligmann to get up on his moral high horse and speak as though what happened to him, doesn't regularly happen to people without the benefit of a well-funded legal team. 

That he did not take that approach is commendable:

"Just having gone through what I went through really opened my eyes to the injustices" of the court system, Seligmann said. "The Innocence Project right now is the most legitimate program trying to change the wrongs of the criminal system." 

Seligmann became involved with the organization after being invited to its first banquet in April, shortly after he was declared innocent. At the banquet, he met other wrongly accused people, some of whom had spent years in jail for crimes they didn't commit. 

"It was one of the most incredible experiences that I ever had," Seligmann said. "Getting a chance to meet some of these people really puts a face on some of these issues. To see what these people went though is mind-boggling. Getting a chance to talk about what they went through and how the justice system treated them really inspired me to make a difference."

Good on him. I hope he stays true to it.

UPDATE: My bad:

Seligmann's experience of being indicted and then cleared of the allegations proved motivating. He will graduate from Brown University later this month with a joint degree in history and public policy. He plans to attend law school, where he will focus on criminal defense and work to reduce the number of innocent people behind bars. "It opened my eyes to things I never knew existed," Seligmann said in a recent interview, adding, "When you have your life taken out of your hands, it's terrifying.

 Apparently he has stayed true to it.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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