UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT: POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND THE SHAMEFUL INJUSTICES OF THE DUKE LACROSSE RAPE CASE by Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson (Thomas Dunne), 420 pages, $26.95. Rating: NNN
This sensational story of rape and race pitted a rogue prosecutor and his enablers against three white jocks on the Duke University lacrosse team. When the dust cleared a year later, the ugly picture of injustice was clear for all to see.
Until Proven Innocent is a seething indictment of the individuals and institutions in Durham, North Carolina that conspired to put three demonstrably innocent young men in jail for 30 years.
The sordid story began in March 2006 when the lacrosse team hired a mentally unstable African-American exotic dancer to strip at a house party. Later that night, the dancer, in custody for being drunk in public and facing forced committal to a hospital to detox, told police she'd been raped by some of the lacrosse players.
Though doubts about the dancer's story grew as new information emerged, the truthfulness of her allegations was not the overarching concern of the people who took up her charges and used them for their own purposes.
District Attorney Mike Nifong saw the case as way to stay in office by showing black voters he was eager to prosecute privileged white kids on their behalf. When DNA proved the players innocent, he criminally suppressed that evidence.
Self-righteous Duke faculty members used the charges to further their radical agenda, even if it meant denouncing their own students when they had no proof of their guilt. A posse of irresponsible journalists fanned the flames of racial unrest for ratings and circulation. This infuriating tale tells how the presumption of innocence became a casualty of base politics, and how easy it is to destroy lives.