Friday, February 19, 2010

Duke lacrosse accuser Crystal Gail Mangum arrested again

How could you, Crystal Gail?
by Robert A. Waters

In her short mis-spent life, Crystal Gail Mangum has made headlines more than most. We all remember the Duke debacle, in which she accused Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans of raping her. The charge came at the perfect time for Mike Nifong--he was running for district attorney of Durham County, North Carolina and needed the black vote to get elected. Lo and behold, he latched onto the rape allegations and, like a bulldog, held on to the bitter end.

It was the perfect meta-narrative for the national media: privileged white jocks brutalize a down-trodden black mother, student, and all-American girl. While the case was being tried in the media, Crystal Gail’s name wasn’t published. At least, not at first. But the three lacrosse players weren’t so lucky. They were threatened and smeared and sent packing from Duke University. Worse, they faced the prospect of spending thirty years in prison.

It soon became apparent to most Americans that there was no truth to the charges. Yet Nifong and Mangum continued to pursue the case. Nifong did indeed win his election, but from that point on his life went downhill. He ended up losing his job, getting disbarred, and being sued by the players.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper finally put an end to the legal witch hunt by announcing that “based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals [Seligmann, Finnerty, and Evans], are innocent of these charges.”

However, he recommended that no action be taken against Crystal Gail, whose name had finally been published. Mangum had mental issues, Cooper said, and it would do no good to arrest her for making a false charge. Because of Cooper’s charitable interpretation of the law, the All-American girl walked away scot-free.

This wasn’t Crystal Gail’s first brush with the legal system. In 2000, her driver’s license was revoked after being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.

In 2002, Crystal Gail stole a taxi. After a high-speed chase in which she attempted to run down a police officer, she was arrested and pled guilty to driving while impaired, attempting to elude arrest, larceny, and attempted assault on a government official.

Of course, since it didn’t fit the formula, little of this was published by the media for many months.

By 2006, Crystal Gail Mangum was working as a stripper and an escort. On March 13, she claimed to have been gang-raped by numerous lacrosse players. DNA from three or five different men (depending on what article you read) was indeed found on her clothes or in her body. None, however, came from the lacrosse players.

Now Crystal Gail is back in the news. A report in the Raleigh News and Observer reads: “According to authorities, Mangum, 31, and her boyfriend, Milton Walker, were fighting in their apartment at 2220 Lincoln St. She then set fire to Walker’s clothing inside a bathroom tub, located in a bathroom in the middle of the apartment, police said. She tried to start another fire after officers arrived, according to an arrest warrant read during Mangum’s first court appearance this morning. Police said Mangum also threatened to stab Walker.”

She’s in jail with a million dollar bond and an attempted murder charge hanging over her head. In a way, I feel sorry for Crystal Gail Mangum. She does seem to have mental problems. But the false accusations she made against the lacrosse players were so egregious that any sympathy I may have is outweighed by her obvious dangerousness. (False accusations can be as harmful as a physical assault.) If the charges against her are proven to be true, she should be isolated from society.

1 comment:

Zack said...

Actually, the accusations are usually more dangerous than physical assault. You generally recover from physical assault, but the damage to your reputation can never be repaired. The teacher accused of child molestation, even when the charge is patently false, will never be allowed n a classroom again. When I read of Duke Lacrosse players, three names immediately popped to mind, even though the accusation was false.