Trigger Warning : This Article Mentions Rape & Sexual Assault
Duke University, a prestigious and affluent university that any parent would be proud to have their child attend. Well known for its impeccable engineering program and athletic teams; Duke is a university that has thrived over the years. But in 2006 what has been dubbed the “Duke Lacrosse Scandal” brought the university to the forefront of the media and tarnished the schools name for the first time since opening its doors in 1838.
A party was raging at on the evening of March 13, 2006 at 610 North Buchanan Boulevard: a house owned by Duke University and off campus housing to the men’s lacrosse team captains. Crystal Mangum and Kim Pittman (AKA Kim Roberts) arrived at the residence (separately) after being hired to work as strippers through an escort service. The house is full of horny 20 something year old guys, is anyone really surprised? Crystal who had supposedly only been stripping for a short time had consumed Flexeril (a muscle relaxer) and alcohol beforehand to calm her nerves. Shortly after entering a house one of the team captains asked the girls if they brought any sex toys with them to which Pittman responded by asking if the players penis was too small. The enraged alleged small wee wee guy grabbed a broomstick and told the girls to use that as a sex toy. The exchange of words stopped the performance in its tracks and the two girls locked themselves in a bathroom of the house.
During this time players Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty left the house most likely feeling uncomfortable and having had their buzz totally killed. The two eventually emerged from the bathroom and Magnum proceeded to run around the front yard half dressed. According to the half-dressed Magnum the two girls were coaxed back into the house where they were separated. While the two were separated Crystal Magnum states that she taken into a bathroom where she was raped, beaten, and forcefully choked for up to thirty minutes. Later that name a call was placed to 911 by a woman claiming a group of men were yelling racial slurs while threatening to sodomize her with a broomstick.
According to one the lacrosse players, after this incident the team captain who hired the strippers somehow convinced them to continue on with their show but when approached by the player who made the broomstick remarks earlier the two locked themselves in the bathroom a second time. At this time numerous party guests decided to leave because they feared all the commotion would cause a noise complaint. The girls eventually emerged from the bathroom and left the house. This time they would not be asked to come back inside as one of the guys who stayed at the house locked the front door. Shortly before 1:00am the two girls got into Pitmann’s car where an exchange between the boys and Kim Pitmann occurred. According to witnesses Pitmann called the partygoers “short dick white boys”, and jeered at a player about “how he couldn’t get it on his own and had to pay for it”, to which one player fired back “We asked for whites, not n******.”. Both girls than departed in Pittman’s vehicle.
According to Magnum at some point during the trip Pitmann attempted to push her out of the car and when that failed, she pulled into a Kroger’s parking lot and told a security guard that a female refused to leave her car. After smelling alcohol on Magnum’s breath and believing she was on drugs the security guard called 911 to report the incident. Police arrived and removed Crystal Magnum from the vehicle and attempted to question her. She had no identification on her, refused to speak to police, had trouble walking, and seemed impaired so authorities took her to Durham Center access (a center for substance abuse). She was later transferred to Duke University Medical Center and a physical examination was performed. The examination showed that Magnum had no swelling, no abnormalities, and three small cuts on her right knee and right heel. When asked, she specifically and repeatedly denied receiving any physical blows by hands. Further examination showed no tenderness in the back, chest, and neck. However, diffuse swelling of her vagina was discovered. She would later claim that she had performed using a vibrator for a couple in a hotel room shortly before the lacrosse team party. This activity, or an infection could have caused the swelling.
Sometime after the party Duke lacrosse player Ryan McFadyen sent an e-mail to his teammates stated that he planned to hire strippers, kill them, and cut their skin off; all while wearing his Duke University issued spandex. The team insisted that the e-mail was sent out all in good fun and was intended to be humorous irony. Oh yeah, that is really hilarious; I can hardly contain my laughter. I have a very dark of sense of humor but damn. Duke administrators asserted the email was an imitation of Patrick Bateman, the main character in the Bret Easton Ellis novel, American Psycho, (the book was later turned into a movie starring Christian Bale) which was read and lectured upon in more than one class at the university. As a result of the e-mail McFadyen was temporarily suspended from Duke but was allowed to return later that summer.
On March 14, 2006; the day after the party Crystal Magnum would go to Durham police and claim that she was in fact raped by multiple players of the lacrosse team, an investigation into the matter ensued. Between March 16 and 21, police showed Mangum photos in an attempt to have her identify her attackers. Each photo array only contained photographs of lacrosse team members, and did not follow the DPD’s protocol of including photos of individuals not regarded as potential suspects. Mangum identified Reade Seligmann as someone who attended the party, but not as an attacker, and did not identify David Evans at all despite seeing his photo twice. On a March 27th Mangum was shown another array of photos; this was containing only the forty-six white players on the lacrosse team; it was at this time that she claimed Seligmann, Evans, and Collins were in fact the three players who attacked her. I’m not saying she is lying but her story seems a bit shifty if you ask me.
Despite having one of the players who attended the party show an attorney time stamped photo that showed that Crystal Magnum already had injures when she arrived to the house; on April 18, 2006 Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were both indicted on charges of first-degree rape. That same day search warrants were executed on both boy’s dorm rooms. On May 15, 2006 former team captain David Evans was indicted on charges of first-degree rape, sexual offense, and kidnapping.
Despite having one of the players who attended the party show an attorney time stamped photo that showed that Crystal Magnum already had injures when she arrived to the house; on April 18, 2006 Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were both indicted on charges of first-degree rape. That same day search warrants were executed on both boy’s dorm rooms. On May 15, 2006 former team captain David Evans was also indicted on charges of first-degree rape. Due to lack of DNA evidence, inconsistent stories from both strippers (Magnum allegedly spoke told an investigator on the case a completely different story from her previous one), and Pittmann flat out stating that Magnum was not raped and her story was “a crock” all charges against the three players were dropped on December 22, 2006. On April 12, 2007 the attorney general announced that Evans, Finnerty, and Seligmann had been officially acquitted on all charges.
In the aftermath of the accusations coach of the Duke lacrosse team Mike Pressler received death threats via e-mail and hate calls. He would later resign after McFadyen’s e-mail was released to the public and through his lawyer stated that his resignation was not an admission of any wrong doing on his part. On June 18, 2007 Duke University and the three accused players reached an out of court settlement. The university would pay 60 million dollars to the three boys, each of them walking away with 20 million dollars.
Reade Seligmann enrolled in Brown University during the fall of 2007. He graduated from Brown in 2010 and went on to attend Emory University school of law, which he graduated from in 2013. Collin Finnerty went on to enroll in Loyola College graduating in May 2010. David Evans, who had already graduated from Duke before being charged, went on to receive an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2012. I suppose I could end the story here but I have to tell you the best part. This is just too crazy to leave out.
You guys know I love my true crime shows, I live for those programs. One day I was at home minding my own business watch “Snapped” on the oxygen channel when guess who pops up on my TV screen…. yup, Crystal Magnum! I know, I know, I had a what the hell moment too! It seemed she had turned her life around and became a better person after this whole incident. Graduating from North Carolina Central University in 2008 with a degree in police psychology and releasing her memoir in October of that same year. But man, oh man let me tell you. In November 2013 Magnum was found guilty to second degree murder regarding the stabbing death of her boyfriend Reginald Daye. She argued that she acted in self-defense fearing that Daye was going to kill her. The jury of course didn’t buy it and she was eventually sentenced to 14-18 years in prison. Karma, it always finds you.
So that is the twisted tale of the Duke lacrosse scandal. When one woman single handedly tried to ruin three young men’s lives. It is people like her who make it difficult for true rape survivors to get their case to a court of law. Well now Magnum is sitting exactly where she tried to send those players, prison. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted in any way, tell somebody you trust. You are not alone, you don’t have to carry that burden with you, and most importantly it was NOT your fault.
“Remembering and (misremembering) the Duke lacrosse case – Vanity Fair
“Ten years later, The Duke lacrosse rape case” – Huffington Post
“The stripper who cried rape” – The Daily Beast