Anatomy of a Scandal
In the spring of 2006, a story about a top-tier college lacrosse team and its direct involvement in the alleged gang rape of a young black woman became a national sensation. The crime, supposedly, occurred in the midst of a raucous Saturday-night party in a house just across the street from the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The house was home to four members of the Duke lacrosse team. On the night in question, most of the team’s 46 players, all but one of whom were white, were in attendance, in part to watch the woman participate in a strip tease. It was said that as many as 20 players had participated in the rape.
Reporters, columnists, and talking heads spun grand theories about the sociological meaning of the Duke incident. It was universally portrayed as sending a message about class (the psychopathic arrogance bred by privilege and affluence), sex (the enduring legacy of sexual violence in the American South), and race (the continuing oppression of African-Americans by the white power elite). This analysis seemed to be confirmed when three of the students were indicted on rape charges by the district attorney of Durham County.
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