Monday, May 29, 2006

Press Release No. 5

Date: December 23, 2006
Subject: Duke University President Richard Brodhead criticizes Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong

Jason Trumpbour, Spokesperson
Tel: (443) 834-3666

President Brodhead’s statement

Yesterday, Duke University President Richard Brodhead issued a brief statement in response to the news that Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong had moved to dismiss rape charges against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans in the lacrosse case. Nifong’s action left in place equally serious charges of sexual offense. The full text of President Brodhead’s statement is as follows:

    I am greatly relieved for the students and their families that the most serious of the charges has been dropped. Given the certainty with which the district attorney made his many public statements regarding the rape allegation, his decision today to drop that charge must call into question the validity of the remaining charges.

    The district attorney should now put this case in the hands of an independent party, who can restore confidence in the fairness of the process. Further, Mr. Nifong has an obligation to explain to all of us his conduct in this matter.

    Source: Statement from Duke President Brodhead Regarding Dropping of Rape Charges
Our response to President Brodhead’s statement

Friends of Duke University enthusiastically welcomes President Brodhead’s statement. This brief statement, brief enough to be reproduced in its entirety above, says a great deal. President Brodhead:

  • directly and unequivocally criticizes Nifong’s handling of the case for the first time
  • questions the validity of the charges
  • joins the chorus of many others calling for an independent prosecutor to handle the case
  • expresses compassion for Reade, Collin, David and their families.

    While we have been critical of President Brodhead and the Duke administration, it was never because we doubted President Brodhead’s ability to rise to the occasion even in the face of the unique challenges presented by the lacrosse case. We are glad to see our faith in President Brodhead has not been misplaced.

    The Friends of Duke University has repeatedly emphasized that we in the Duke community are not each other’s enemies and that our real enemy is Nifong. Now that we seem to agree on the way forward, we can all work together to achieve the thing that we all want: justice for three innocent members of the Duke family.

    President Brodhead’s words are a beginning and not an end point. His bold words must be matched by equally bold deeds in the coming weeks. He must also continue to speak out and do so forcefully. Nevertheless, President Brodhead’s statement gives us every optimism to believe that he will do both.

    On the Web:
    Friends of Duke University


    At 2:28 PM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    You are far too kind to Brodhead. Joining the anti-Nifong chorus this late in the game shows more caginess than courage. An appropriate response from alumni when asked to give money to Duke should be this: "Mr. Brodhead has an obligation to explain to all of us his conduct in this matter."

    At 2:34 PM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Sad to say, I agree with the first post. This week my son took my advice not to follow my footsteps to Duke, despite a record at a big urban public high school that matches his near-perfect SAT scores. It's clear he can find better choices than a distant school where students suffer the disdain of both their local community and vocal faculty members like the “Gang of 88” – and, indeed, where a spineless president can muster the courage to publicly support his students only after the prosecutorial wind shifts in their favor. What Duke so urgently needs is a wholesale change not just in the poisoned culture of its faculty but also in its most senior leadership.

    At 3:02 PM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Excellent statement by Brodhead, and a fine follow-up by FODU, appropriately positive and encouraging to take the next steps.

    At 3:11 PM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    so can they enroll for class at Duke in the spring semester if they choose to do so?

    At 3:47 PM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    As frustrating and "highly unacceptable" as Brodhead's behavior has been, I agree with FODU that space must be allowed for Brodhead to join the rest of us in seeking justice for the Duke students.

    In the near future, Brodhead should be required to lead a reform of Duke University, including a housecleaning of most, if not all, of the "Gang of 88".

    At 3:57 PM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I cannot believe your position on brodhead!! After what this cretin has done to the Lacrosse players and the school. Unbelieveable!!! The man is spineless and with standards and morals that shift with the political winds. He has to go...along with the 88 and their ilk.

    At 4:08 PM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The lack of evidence is so incontrovertible in this hoax that Colin and Reade should be readmitted for the 2nd semester. No reasonable person acould find fault with that course of action. If the Brodhead adminstration wants to partially redeem itself it has no choice but to open its doors to these maligned students.

    At 6:03 PM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Thank you, Friends of Duke University, for taking initiative and having substantial impact. It's clear that you have the attention of President Brodhead and the Administration and certainly the support of many alumni.

    I have struggled with the role of President Brodhead and the trustees in this case. On the one hand, they are responsible for the well-being of the university as a whole and therefore must be careful in their actions. On the other hand, these three young men are clearly innocent and have been persecuted by an out-of-control DA seeking personal gain. Duke should have been there for them, at least behind-the-scenes if not front-and-center.

    So I agree with Mr. Trumpbour that Brodhead's statement was appropriate and better late than never. I also agree with the disappointed alumni posters that it should have come sooner.

    As alumni, we should propose a set of actions for the Trustees to take on behalf of Messrs. Evans, Finnerty, and Seligmann:

    1. An affirmative statement of support of the students and their families now that the facts are openly available and clear, including immediate re-instatement and credit for the lost semesters;

    2. An offer of support "by any means necessary" to defend them to the fullest (government, legal, financial) and to pursue Nifong appropriately;

    3. Agreement to pay incurred and future legal costs to see this through.

    These young men have carried themselves with dignity and courage during trying times. I fully believe they will demonstrate exemplary leadership when they are exonerated.

    At 6:41 PM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Re above: Very thoughtful comment, I totally agree with it.

    I hope Mr. Trumpbour and his friends are already busy drafting an action proposal for Mr. Brodhead to follow in the coming days and weeks. I also hope Mr. Brodhead is prepared to take action on all recommendations made to him.

    This day should have arrived earlier, but it is finally here and that’s what is important.

    At 8:56 PM, December 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I commend to you the item on JIC entitled "Brodhead Failed". I cannot believe that this feckless idiot has swayed you to support him with a few words generated by his pr team. He may be a fine teacher, father etc but he is woefully ill prepared to run a university, particularly Duke. There is absolutely nothing he can do or say that will forgive his failures on the frontend of this episode. He is truly pathetic. Most sadly, I am terribly disappointed in you.

    At 12:04 AM, December 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    NO - No better late than never on the actions of Brodhead. The deficencies of Duke and Durham are well documented. Trusting your kid to be safe in either is nuts

    At 9:39 AM, December 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Forgiveness! Who is talking about forgiveness? Sadly, the top priority remains to get Dave, Reade and Collin to safety. It is too premature to have a ‘forgiveness conversation,’ and nobody is having one. Not yet!

    At 2:15 PM, December 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I have followed this case from the start and read all of President Broadhead's comments thus far in great detail.He hedged his bets from the start. He always affirmed the "right to the presumption of innocence" but then destroyed it every single public statement(possibly except the very first) by linking it to long discusions on the horrors of rape and other politically correct topics which would prove cover for him and our beloved Duke if the allegations later proved true. He allowed the posting of "wanted posters"and the discraceful actions of the "Group of 88 " He allowed the harassment of lacrose players in class by politiclly motivated ignorent proffessors to continue despite his knowledge of it He failed the students of the lacrose team individually and collectively. He failed the student body at large. He ruined a great coach and mentor. He failed the alumni,Duke University and the people of Durham.His complicity in the Media circus that rose up arround this case is not to be forgiven. He has been tested and failed

    At 6:50 PM, December 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Totally agreed with above. Brodhead failed, no question about it.

    At 7:33 PM, December 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    To 2:15 et seq. HEAR, HEAR!!! This guy's ineptness boggles the mind. And as long as there is a blog running, I am going to beat this drum as loud as I can. Others are invited to join in.

    At 11:33 AM, December 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    2:15 got it right. I am with him. Questions will be asked as soon as this travesty is over. Brodhead cannot and will not survive the aftermath of his supreme failure! It is only a matter of time before he is gone. Duke alumni will demand nothing less.

    At 11:18 AM, December 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    While I agree that Brodhead has completely failed in his role, I commend Jason for his recent reply yo Brodhead finally showing some spine. We have to remember that the main purpose is to get the charges dropped for good and if the Duke President now will be come an advocate for the boys, then he must be encouraged. After this debacle is over, those who failed to act will have to answer for this, and heros like James Coleman with be celebrated, but for right now, lets just keep trying to get as much support as possible for these boys.

    At 12:27 PM, December 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Mr. Justice Roberts of the U.s. Supreme Court once observed that "It is better for wisdom to come late than not at all". In that spirit I welcome the President's statement. However I also agree with those who believe
    that the rush to judgment of "the notorious 88", Ath;etic Director, administration generally, and the President in particular requires demonstrablly strong and supportive leadership NOW and in the future to assure justice in the case at hand and to avoid such fiascos in the future.

    At 4:02 PM, December 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    In the late '60s, when many campuses were being turned upside down by radical students AND by their often more radical professors, the redoubtable Sidney Hook addressed one of my classes at Cornell. Hook made it clear to us that what American universities needed most from their professors and their administrators was not wisdom, not intelligence, not learning--but rather COURAGE. The lamentable conduct of Richard Brodhead and his minions and the unconscionable treachery of the "Gang of 88" show that our universities are still not breeding Bravehearts, that whatever benefits Duke students expect to receive for their substantial outlays, lessons in how to be virtuous are not likely to be among them.

    At 12:16 PM, December 29, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I understand why, as a political matter, your organization has taken the position it has with respect to Brodhead's late conversion to the cause of fairness and balance. However, it is hard to imagine how his presidency can survive the lack of backbone and judgment he has exhibited in this matter. I would not be surprised if the trustees are looking for a way to ease Brodhead out. He has proven that he does not deserve their confidence. Duke has already experienced a substantial drop in early applications. Can a drop in donations to the university be far behind?

    At 10:16 PM, January 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Mr Broadhead convicted these young men by cancelling their season and dismissing them from school. He is as guilty as Mr Nifong and the false accuser. This is not the time to be politically correct to "Mr Broadhead". I suppose he will write a book about this injustice in the end and earn his living off the back of these boys. I am disgusted that anyone could defend him and lol at the thought that now the many who disparaged these boys have the nerve to stnad in their defense. Do not get me wrong, I think Mr Broadhead in his press release said the very minimum. He didn't say, "these boys are innocent and we, myself (Broadhead), the band of 88, the classmates, the townspeople, Nancy Grace, MSNBC and the people of the USA judged the young men unfairly!". Let us not forget that they were judged as they were for being young, white, talented males perceived to have money. I have said it before and will say it again...let us all refrain from being "too politically correct"!

    At 12:16 PM, January 10, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    As the blinders fall from even Broadhurst eyes it would seem to be time for action. A very public examination of this debacle should be conducted and institutional and individual wrong doing should be punished. Let the world know how the media, the University, the faculty, the students, the Police Department, the Prosecutors office and every other entity who jumped on the accused in an effort to be "broadminded" be exposed. Let them have to hire council at $1000 per hour and they might think like Americans in the future.

    At 6:41 PM, January 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Why in the world would I want my kid to attend Duke?

    Simply amazing.


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