Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Letters from friends 2

This section contains letters and comments sent to us by friends and supporters. If you want to contribute, please email your letters to us. We will review and post them as appropriate.


At 10:35 AM, September 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Winslow Boy / The Duke Boys

Recently I had an opportunity to watch the film “The Winslow Boy”. For those of you unfamiliar with the 1999 film directed by David Mamet, it is based on a Terence Rattigan play, inspired by a true story which occurred in 1908. A sea cadet, George Archer-Shee, at the Royal Naval College, Osborne House is accused of forging and stealing a five-shilling postal order. Despite his claims of innocence, he was subsequently expelled.

The central theme of The Winslow Boy is justice. In the film, Cadet Ronnie Winslow’s father, convinced of his son’s innocence, believes a great injustice had been done. The father engages the best barrister in England, Sir Robert Morton, to represent his son. Following debates in the House of Commons, the case finally goes to court. Sir Morton discredits much of the evidence, including a handwriting expert and other witnesses, resulting in the charges against the boy withdrawn.

The film raises the questions of how far will one family go to prove their son’s innocence and defend the family’s honor. In the Winslow case, the pursuit of justice required much courage, but also took a great toll on the family. It affected the family’s finances and the father’s health. The elder son was forced to leave Oxford due to lack of funds. The daughter lost her dowry, which was needed to pay legal expenses. Her fiancée broke their engagement and her future prospects for a suitable marriage were harmed.

Throughout the film, one sees the use of newspaper clippings, political cartoons and caricatures of the time. I was also struck by the dialogue in one scene about talking to the press:

Question: “What shall I say to them?”

Answer: “Whatever you say will have little bearing on what they write.”

Fast forward to 2006, instead of one boy we are talking about three boys. Instead of London, this is happening in Durham. Three boys arrested and indicted in what has come to be known as the Duke Lacrosse Case. Instead of cricket, the sport of the time is lacrosse. Instead of a cricket bat, they carry lacrosse sticks. Rather than dressing in white flannel, they wear shorts, T-shirts and sneakers. The three boys are the sons of loving parents who believe in their innocence. The accused have proclaimed their innocence. The parents of the Duke Lacrosse players seek justice and have hired attorneys to represent their sons.

The media initially wrote what would sell and what they thought the public would want to hear. Then the ‘fantastic lies’ began to unravel. Cell phone records, ATM photographs and receipts, restaurant receipts and alibi witnesses have come forward. Blogs, poems and cartoons appeared as many people have come to believe in their innocence.

The pursuit of justice requires great personal sacrifice, including financial strain and the emotional well being of the three families. When the charges are eventually dropped or they are found innocent, what about the personal costs of justice? Some things can never be recovered, including the harm to their reputations, the loss of privacy and the emotional stress.

The Winslow Boy is a film about people and ideas from another time and place, yet seems so relevant for what is happening right now. How far would any of us go to prove the innocence of our sons or our daughters? I am reminded of the lines in one of the final scenes of the film:

“It is easy to do justice. It is very hard to do right.”

Joan Collins
Garden City, NY

At 10:35 AM, September 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan - your latest post is just wonderful. I've seen the film 'The Winslow Boy' several times and there are alot of parallels to this situation. The case took a huge toll on the Winslow family but they never gave up. Like you wrote, it was a matter of justice and honor. I'm sure none of the families involved in this case will give up either. And neither will we. Thanks for another great post.

At 10:35 AM, September 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, your letter is superb. The uninformed pundits on Court TV are twisting the truth today, as I read your moving words. Thank you for this powerful commentary.

Your friend, Joan

At 10:44 AM, September 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, excellent letter!

Thank you for taking the time to write it. I will definetely look for the movie. In a few years, we will probably be watching “The Duke Boys” movie. I pray to god it will have a happy ending and this saga will become a distant memory.

At 6:11 PM, September 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, thank you. My heart breaks for these families. You and I will never know the price they have paid to defend their sons, but they have done what is right and good.

At 5:12 PM, September 26, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful letter to Prof. Holloway from Concerned Duke Alumnus. Based on the writing alone, the alumnus should be the professor.

At 9:41 AM, September 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This letter was published in the Duke Chronicle on September 29, 2006.

Athletes Integral Part of University Life
by Rachel Shack

Professor Orin Starn recently wrote in The Herald-Sun, "A university that prides itself on innovation would become a bold leader in much-needed college athletics reform." What is so innovative about making Duke look like the hundreds of other universities with good academics and uncompetitive athletics?

It was not a sell-out at Cameron Indoor Stadium a few Mondays ago. The meeting of student-athletes, coaches and support staff "family" was a call to reaffirm and renew values that the Athletic Department, and all those in it, have always represented. As student athletes, we are in the unique position of representing the University on a national stage, which we do with pride. We love to play for the name on the front of our jerseys rather than the back, and all the past successes and tradition of excellence that come with the letters D-U-K-E.

I write to respond to some recent proposals that Duke de-emphasize or eliminate its athletics program.

I have been a life-long Duke fan. When I was admitted here, my dream became a reality. I was not recruited to Duke as an athlete. In the months following my acceptance, I decided that sports were too significant a part of my life to give up, so I tried out and walked on to the women's lacrosse team-a team that has gone to the Final Four my first two years at Duke. Since my first day of practice, I have felt extremely privileged to be a part of such a special, driven and talented group of women. At Duke, I have served on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, a group which interacts with the Athletic Department as well as organizes and participates in several community service projects. I am a member of the first class of Baldwin Scholars, a program which stemmed from Duke's Women's Initiative, and which aims to change women's leadership roles and attitudes on campus.

That being said, I am first and foremost a serious student, as are most student-athletes I know. I and my fellow athletes have enormous respect for the faculty at Duke. One of the ways we demonstrate that respect for our professors is hard work. Duke athletes work hard. Last year, 362 Duke student-athletes earned a place on the ACC Academic Honor Roll, which led the conference for the 18th straight year. A 2004 graduate of the women's lacrosse team finished first in her class as a mathematics and classics major.

All of our coaches have been college students and, in most cases, student-athletes. Although many professors may not have played sports, it is important to understand and respect what kind of impact athletics has on Duke University, its culture and its students, athletes and non-athletes alike. Duke is unique not only because of its innovation in the laboratories or the lecture halls. Duke gains its sense of community and culture from the fact that it combines a first-rate academic curriculum with an incredibly successful athletic department, and this is what the students rally behind. Without athletics, Duke would still be great, but not complete. The combination of elite academics and athletics creates a strong feeling of community and school spirit. My former teammate called it "Blue Devil magic." To me, this is what sets Duke apart, and what has attracted many, if not most, of its students.

The professors of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences proclaim themselves open-minded, dedicated to helping their students examine all sides of the issues before releasing them into the world, well educated and prepared to make their own choices and form their own opinions.

Recently published opinion pieces by faculty, however, especially faculty who are on committees of the Campus Culture Initiative, contradict those values and open-mindedness. The Campus Culture Initiative committees should be working to further unify athletics and academics, instead of alienating and castigating some of the most hard-working people on this campus.

In her recently published article, "Coda: Bodies of Evidence," Duke professor Karla Holloway makes the point that important groups of students, such as African American women, have been marginalized in the wake of the lacrosse rape case. I understand their conflicted sentiments in recent times.

However, adopting her suggestion to downsize or eliminate the sports programs at Duke would, paradoxically, deprive others' of their civil rights: Title IX serves as an important social function in creating access for women and minority men to colleges that would otherwise not be available. Sports and the "ethic of sportsmanship" not only add to the moral standing and character of the University, they are an integral part of the full educational experience. Learning to work well and cooperating with people from different backgrounds, leading a team and working toward a common goal are all values directly translatable to the classroom and should be encouraged instead of criticized.

Professor Holloway borrows the expression, as if it were a negative, "defeat also tests the character of the fan, for the true fan must remain loyal even during the bad times." That is very true, and especially pertinent right now. Within the athletic department, those words are reflected by how many different teams support each other on the field and off, especially now that we are recovering from a "bad time." However, this support and appreciation should not come just from within the athletic department. All who support Duke, including and especially its brilliant professors who share their knowledge with all of us, should and must remain loyal to what Duke has always stood for: Excellence in academics and athletics, and the student-athletes who directly contribute to the excellence in both.

A university that protects a culturally constructed minority and supports its students would make a leap forward in its Campus Culture Initiative.

Likely to happen?

Not at Duke.

The right thing to do?


Rachel Shack is a Trinity junior and a member of the women's lacrosse team.

At 10:22 AM, September 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is people like Rachel Shack that make Duke what it is. How dare Brodhead and the trustees ignore these messages and pretend that all is well on campus? All is NOT well! Starn, Wood, Holloway and their ilk must be disciplined by the administration to respect the university that they serve and the students who are there to receive an education. They should stop hating both the university and its students. And, if they do not show the inclination, they should be dealt with swiftly and effectively. It is long over due. Or, if he prefers, Brodhead can pay the price himself. It is really up to him.

At 3:47 PM, October 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Profile in Courage
Moezeldin Elmostafa

Previously I wrote about Dave Evans and Kerstin Kimel to remind us not to forget that amid the darkness of the Duke Lacrosse Case, some true heroes have emerged. Now I want to write about a different kind of hero, an ordinary man caught up in extraordinary circumstances: Moezeldin Elmostafa.

Elmostafa was the taxi driver caught in the cross fire of the indictment of Reade Seligmann. He picked up Reade Seligmann and Rob Wellington and drove them to the Wachovia ATM machine, then to a fast-food restaurant called “Cook Out” and finally to their dorms on Duke’s West Campus. The cab driver spoke first with defense attorneys and then police and recalled picking up the two young men. Mr. Elmostafa signed an affidavit describing his recollection of the evening. Rather than accept the cab driver’s word and the new evidence in the case, the police reportedly asked Elmostafa whether he had been paid for his testimony.

As a result of his coming forward, the cabbie was arrested on May 11, 2006 on an almost 3-year-old warrant for larceny. The larceny charge related to picking up a passenger, driving her to the mall, and then driving her home. Shortly thereafter, Elmostafa was contacted by store security who informed him that his passenger had shoplifted five purses totaling about $250.

Elmostafa assisted security by providing his passenger’s address and his own driver’s license. Store security thanked him for his help and he never thought about it again. The passenger, Lisa Faye Hawkins, a woman with a record of 127 arrests, pleaded guilty about three months later.

Coincidentally, investigators in the Duke Lacrosse case arrested Elmostafa. About his arrest, the taxi driver asserted, “They asked me if I had anything new to say about the lacrosse case. When I said no, they took me to the magistrate.” Mr. Elmostafa was represented by attorney, Thomas Loflin, who called the larceny charges “entirely frivolous”. Loflin said, "It was striking that two principal investigators in the lacrosse case served the warrant instead of one uniformed officer.” According to Loflin, detectives don't serve warrants unless it is a murder or something serious. Loflin said, "This is the first case I know of where that has happened, in Durham at least.” Elmostafa was acquitted of all charges on August 29, 2006. During the trial, two investigators in the Duke Lacrosse case sat in the courtroom.

Throughout this travesty known as the Duke Lacrosse case, some ‘fantastic lies’ have been told and unraveled. In recalling the events of that evening, Mr. Elmostafa never wavered. Perhaps he followed Mark Twain’s advice “Always tell the truth; that way you don't have to remember what you said.” He bravely stood up to Durham’s high stakes game of ‘Truth or Consequences’ and in doing so he risked everything. He was arrested, incurred legal expenses, spent five hours in jail, and endured his picture and name on the news and in the press. All of this for a total stranger.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Elmostafa decided not to remain silent about something that mattered, even in the face of risk to himself. In doing so, he showed himself to be a person of integrity and a true hero.

Writing this Profile in Courage series has reminded me that courage transcends gender, race, nationality, and social status. Courage lies deep within some of us, waiting for that special moment to emerge. In that one moment, courage can turn an ordinary individual into an extraordinary human being who becomes role model for us all. Moezeldin Elmostafa is such a hero.

Joan Collins
Garden City, NY

At 3:52 PM, October 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Joan, thank you for this latest letter. Sometimes it is easy to forget the most obvious individuals. I am glad Moezeldin Elmostafa was not forgotten, at least, not in your wonderful letters. I agree with you that Elmostafa showed great courage under the worst of circumstances. He deserves our respect and admiration.


At 3:52 PM, October 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was our first true hero in this case!!! It would sure be nice if we could say the same for the faculty...

Duke Lax Mom 08

At 3:53 PM, October 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, your writing brings tears to my eyes. Your prose reflects what we all feel. thank you

madder than a hornet

At 3:53 PM, October 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An elegant statement about a courageous, honest man.


At 3:53 PM, October 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Joan. I sincerely hope that Mr.Elmostafa visits this web site and reads this great letter.

Duke 07 Mom

At 3:54 PM, October 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why I think Elmostafa should be nominated for a Citizen of the Year Award.
I don't know who would give this-- the NAACP?
Durham mayor and city council?
The judges of the city?

That they would hesitate for even a moment, tells us much more about them than about the cabbie. . .

(If JFK were still alive, he could add this as another "Profile in Courage")

At 4:00 PM, October 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be nice if a lawyer sould work pro bono and sue on his behalf.

At 4:04 PM, October 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It reminds me that no good deed goes unpunished. Perhap, a lawyer out there would work pro bono on his behalf and sue for court costs and whatever else. He shouldn't suffer for his bravery and honesty.

At 11:17 AM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, another beautifully written piece. Thank you for expressing the admiration so many of us have for the courageous Mr. Elmostafa!

Your friend, Joan

At 4:12 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Originally published in Duke Magazine, September-October Issue)

Views from Lacrosse Parents

Duke University is a huge source of pride in our family. I went to Duke and have a son, Robert, who graduated in 2004, and a daughter, Lane, a past member of the women’s lacrosse team, who graduated in 2005. I have had the privilege of serving on the executive board of the Annual Giving Fund for the past six years and chaired our 30th reunion last year. I have enjoyed the many opportunities to know Duke administrators, faculty members, and students through my children and frequent visits to Duke for meetings, ice hockey, lacrosse, and basketball games. I treasure the opportunities to reconnect with “old” friends and classmates. Our lives have revolved around Duke in the past eight years.

We were thrilled when our third child, Gibbs, was recruited by Mike Pressler to come to Duke to study and to play lacrosse. Gibbs, like many members of this talented team, could have gone to a number of schools, and we are proud that he chose Duke without a moment of hesitation. He was well aware that he was undertaking a heavy, difficult commitment to academic and athletic excellence and he looked forward to the challenge with healthy trepidation. I will always remember coach Pressler’s words to the freshmen at their lacrosse orientation. These words sent a shiver through me last August and have echoed repeatedly through my mind in the past two months. “Boys, remember you have one chance in life to ruin your reputation. Every step you take represents you, Duke University, Duke alumnae, and your families. And you have one chance in life to make a first impression. Don’t blow it.”

I have to admit that this group of skilled, capable individuals joined by their love for, and talent in, lacrosse blew it. They had a party over Spring Break and briefly let two strangers into their lives. It is still impossible for me to believe that this decision could so damage this group, Duke University, and Durham and resurrect emotions and fears that were considered if not buried, at the least dormant. Issues of race, class, and gender collided and formed what has been called “the perfect storm” and thrust this team and Duke University into the national limelight. On a smaller scale, this horrific incident also exposed a known problem at Duke-many students feel that there is no social life on campus. As ironic as Coach Pressler’s words to the freshmen lacrosse players was my encounter with our dear friend, Sterly Wilder, in the Duke Forest, the morning before the Georgetown—Duke lacrosse game. That day, almost a full two weeks after the infamous party, I still had no idea of its repercussions. But I was aware of the dangers lurking in that neighborhood, and I interrupted Sterly’s run with concerns about the social scene at Duke. Our older son lived a few doors down from the house imprinted on our minds, and I know that many Duke kids flock to off campus parties in that neighborhood. When I attended Duke, the drinking age was eighteen and keg parties in sections, on the quad, and Wannamaker terrace were weekly events. Now alcohol consumption by college students is considered one of the biggest problems facing college administrations, and Duke like many other campuses has become essentially a dry campus. Consequentially, the Duke social scene is driven into the surrounding neighborhoods where it is unsupervised and less safe, and where neighbors, understandably so, are fed up with antics of college students.

In the Duke Magazine article, “A Spring of Sorrows,” Robert Bliwise uses “the lacrosse episode” as a spring board to focus on “issues that have been of concern on this campus and this town for some time” (President Brodhead’s words). I completely agree that the tragic sequence of events ignited by that evening has highlighted problems that exist at many colleges and universities and in society as a whole. What I do not agree with because it is not true is that this Duke lacrosse team is a microcosm of these problems. It is not the behavior or culture of this team that exposed issues of race, class and gender. These issues were thrust to the forefront because of a black woman’s false allegations against white men. I was not aware that the hiring of strippers is a popular occurrence at college parties and that there had been over twenty parties with strippers given by Duke student groups this year. I am quite sure that there will be a lot more caution in the future when students are considering their party entertainment. I am also positive that the Duke lacrosse players did not hire these strippers because of any lack of respect for women and for race.

The Coleman Report commissioned by President Brodhead to study the culture and behavior of Duke lacrosse teams refutes the generalizations that are promoted by the quotations of journalists and faculty members in the article. Alcohol violations among the lacrosse team are comparable to other groups on campus. There are more general citations attributed to this Duke team than other teams because lacrosse players are the only athletic group that lives in two of the houses off East where the neighbors are most bothered by Duke students. In fact, there are fewer citations attributed to this team than there are to other Duke groups who live in this neighborhood. The Coleman Report found no incidents of racism among this team—it states, “The current as well as former African-American members of the men’s team have been extremely positive about the support the team provided them.” There are no incidents involving lacrosse players that in any way show a disrespect for women-in fact quite the opposite. Kerstin Kimel, the coach of the women’s team, attests to the comraderie and mutual respect between the boys and girls and points out that the smart, savvy young women on her team would not hang out with “arrogant jocks.”

It’s sad that I feel compelled to continue to justify, explain, and prove this team’s innocence of the damning charges brought forth by the media. They are not arrogant, swaggering, privileged, surly, violent hooligans and “jocks out of control” to quote the journalists. What a different picture the Coleman Report paints of these young men after a lengthy, thorough investigation. “By all accounts, the -lacrosse players are a cohesive, hard working, disciplined, and respectful athletic team. Their behavior on trips is described as exemplary. Airline personnel complimented them for their behavior…..Both the groundskeeper and the equipment manager spoke about the players’ respect for and appreciation of efforts for the team. They described the members of the team as the best or among the best group of athletes they served in their long tenures with Duke athletics. Although they give coach Pressler credit for instilling these values, they emphasize that the players are a ‘special group of young men.’ The female manager for the last three seasons, a Duke senior, echoed these sentiments.”

“Lacrosse players also have performed well academically. In 2005, twenty seven members of the lacrosse team, more than half, made the ACC Honor Roll. The lacrosse team’s academic performance generally is one of the best among all Duke athletic teams,” according to the Coleman Report. The team also has an impressive, lengthy community service record both on campus and off.

And finally, one more truthful, factual explanation of lacrosse team behavior. The “vile” email is a direct quote from the movie American Psycho, examined and discussed in three Duke psych classes as an example of today’s pop culture.

The lacrosse team had no intentions of malice and no idea of the “perfect storm” that would envelop them and their university. This group of boys is changed forever, and, though I’m sorry for my son’s loss of faith and trust, his newly found maturity and disillusionment will ultimately serve him and his teammates well as they cautiously proceed through life. And because I am the ultimate “cup half full” person, I know that good will come out of this horrendous experience. I know truth will prevail and that we will eventually heal. I know that these boys and the whole Duke community will be stronger and more aware. I know that this team will play again, will represent Duke with honor and pride, and will serve as an example of excellence for all teams in the country. I know that the insecurities and realities stirred up that evening will continue to prompt a continuous, internal investigation and that Duke will change and adapt in its constant mission to be the best it can be. I would not expect any less of this team and our university.

by Sally Johnson Fogarty
Trinity, 1975, Parent-’04, ’05, ’09 and hopefully-‘12
Chevy Chase, Maryland

At 4:18 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Originally published in Duke Magazine, September-October Issue)

Views from Lacrosse Parents

I am from a Duke family. My wife and I graduated from Trinity in 1980. My parents, mother-in-law, sister, four brothers-in-law, cousins, aunts, and uncles all went to Duke. When my second son arrives as a freshman in the fall, he will be the 18th member of my family to attend Duke. I have always been very proud of my family's ties to Duke University. However, the most defining point in my connection to Duke may be that my oldest son is a rising junior and a member of the men’s lacrosse team.

My son made the team as a walk-on his freshman year. I was very proud that his years of athletics had enabled him to become a NCAA Division 1 athlete and especially a Duke athlete! The first time I met Mike Pressler, the former head coach of the men’s lacrosse team, he talked about the team’s GPA and the number of players who were named to the ACC academic honor roll. It became clear to me that he cared very much about academics, and I wondered if my son would live up to the standard. Mike’s nickname is “Iron Mike”, earned because of his belief in hard work. My son’s experience on the lacrosse team was very positive for him and gave his life at Duke discipline, direction, and led him to academic success. I was and continue to be proud of my son because of his hard work, dedication, and connection to Duke Lacrosse.

The last few months have been painful since the fateful party on the evening of March 13th. The article in the last issue of Duke Magazine, “A Spring of Sorrows” did little to ease that pain because it didn't tell the full story of the young men on the team. That Monday night in the middle of March, these young men ignited a debate in the Duke and Durham communities, the basis of which was laid by many generations before them.

This pain has often resulted from the characterizations of the young men on the team. All the members of the team were vilified and found immediately guilty by the press and many in the Duke community as well. This story is one that lends itself to extreme depictions. The story of young rich white men raping a young poor black mother was an easier sell than the complex truth. Given the media frenzy led by the likes of Nancy Grace and others, it is amazing that there was not riot in Durham. One of the great successes of the last few months was the dialogue of cooperation between NCCU and Duke in the wake of the often-polarized press coverage. Full credit goes to NCCU Chancellor James Ammons and Duke President Dick Brodhead for this accomplishment.

One editorial writer, Kathleen Parker, asked her readers to identify a college group. She went on to say, “The group has a 100 percent college graduation rate. Sixty percent have a 3.0 grade point average or above. During the last four years, 80 percent have made a national honor roll. Members regularly volunteer at more than a dozen community agencies, building houses for the homeless and serving in soup kitchens, while raising more money than any other group for the Katrina Relief Fund.” She pointed out that, although no one would know it from the press coverage, this group was the Duke men's lacrosse team.

More pain followed from watching some people use this event as a platform for their causes. Rush Limbaugh and Jesse Jackson weighed in, although on different sides. Houston Baker, then a Duke professor, used it to further his ideological agenda on racism and sexism at Duke. He was part of a group of 88 professors who bought a full-page ad in the Duke Chronicle to discuss the current “Social Disaster.” Much of this dialogue was and is important. However, it is difficult for those of us so close to the center of the storm because it often used caricatures to make a point with less regard for the truth than normal. The pain peaked when the New Black Panther Party, an extremist group known to protest while carrying guns, appeared in the media telling us that they would “interview the players individually” to ensure that the “prosecution” was carried out. As a parent, and one who has trusted our system of justice, this terrified me. That weekend, it puzzled me that no one at Duke thought to call and let the lacrosse parents know what was being done to protect their sons.

In the case of the Duke Magazine article, the pain was not caused by the author’s desire to discuss the culture at Duke, nor was it due to a retelling of the story. Rather it was the result of a total void of any positive statements about the young men on the team. This was another example of the whole story not being told. Clearly these young men displayed behavior unbecoming to a member of the Duke community. However, they were also good students, athletes, and volunteers, and worked tireless hours each day at a sport for which they held great passion. The Coleman Committee, created by Dr. Brodhead to examine the culture of the men's lacrosse team, stated in their report, "The lacrosse team's academic performance generally is one of the best among all Duke athletic teams.” They went on to say, "In 2005, twenty seven members of the lacrosse team, more than half, made the Atlantic Coast Conference's Academic Honor Roll, more than any other ACC lacrosse team. Between 2001 and 2005, 146 members of the lacrosse team made the Academic Honor Roll, twice as many as the next ACC lacrosse team."

The Duke men's lacrosse team was a very tight group brought together by the amount of time they spent together during the season and off-season. Regarding this, the Coleman Report said, "The committee has not heard evidence that the cohesiveness of this group is either racist or sexist. On the contrary, the coach of the Duke women's lacrosse team has expressed her sense of camaraderie that exists between the men's and women's team; members of the men's team, for example, consistently come to the women's games. The current as well as former African-American members of the team have been extremely positive about the support the team provided them.” However, these are young men growing up, and they are not perfect.

I have learned many lessons, some of which are the following: Don’t pay too much attention to press coverage, because they are selling newspapers and not always reporting the truth. Don’t ever prejudge anyone regardless of what one reads in the press. Free speech is good, but the down-side is having a public that can say anything and a press that can print anything. Beware of the 24-hour news cycle and reporters claiming to be your friend. An independent justice system is good, but it doesn’t always work perfectly.

My son has learned lessons as well, and I know there will be many more. Early after the allegations became public, when responding to a message from his uncle, he said, “Never again, regardless of the information presented, will I pass judgment on any other person or group, before I know the facts.” The week following the news of the allegations, my son was in class and was subjected to a professor's personal editorial barrage regarding the guilt of the entire team. He left the class rather than be subjected to assertions that he knew were not true. During his next class, two hours later, another professor led his class through a balanced discussion of the racial issues surrounding the news of the party and allegations. My son learned much from both professors that day; some that he will emulate and some that he will not.

As I think about the future, I hope and pray that my son is better as a result of this situation and the ensuing chaos, dialogue, and healing. I hope he emerges less judgmental than many who have participated in the debate. I hope that he is less naïve. I hope that he has a better understanding of the power of unintended consequences. I hope that he is able to believe in our system of justice, as I always have, until now. Finally, I hope that the caricatures of the team which have been painted in the press are realized by all to be untrue. David Brooks, in a May 29th New York Times editorial said, "Maybe the saddest part of the whole reaction is not the rush to judgment at the start, but the unwillingness by so many to face the truth now that the more complicated reality has emerged."

Some poignant moments come to mind from the last few months. One was a few days after the news of this event became public, when I had to explain to my 11 year-old daughter the definition of rape. That day my wife and I discussed with our five daughters that sexual assault was wrong in any form, but that false accusation was as well. Watching my other children all find ways to support their oldest brother has been touching. One wore a Duke Lacrosse hat to school each day; another talked proudly about her brother; and one prayed for the team in youth group at church before the story became a fixture in the press.

With time the pain will subside, and, while this may shock you, I believe my son and family will be better off. I hope the Duke community will be as well. In the meantime, I pray for the three young men who have been indicted. While my son looks forward to the school year and season ahead, these young men fight for their reputations at the hands of false accusers. What we have encountered is a sliver of what they live each day amid a university that has turned its back. On April 1, Dean Wells’ gave a sermon in Duke Chapel about “naming our silences.” I only wish we now would debate the university’s silence as these young men have gone home to fight their battle alone.

by George K. Jennison, T’80, P ’08, P ‘10
Richmond, Virginia

At 5:22 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mrs Fogarty and Mr. Jennison, your sons and their team-mates ...your families... are in the minds and hearts of many of us. Your courage throughout this ordeal inspires each of us in our own lives. Thank you for sharing these letters with us.

Joan Foster

At 5:45 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Originally published in Duke Magazine - September-October Issue)

Lacrosse Lessons

I thought the article of the lacrosse-team incident was a shameful exercise in politically correct mea culpa. The honored maxim “innocent until proven guilty” was inverted, in tone at least, to “guilty whether innocent or not.” There was no censure of, or even reference to, Professor Baker’s flagrantly injudicious, rush-to-judgment demand that coaches and players be dismissed because of “abhorrent sexual assault … and drunken white male privilege ….” There was not even a suggestion that the alleged victim might have been lying and possibly precedential Tawana Brawley case was never mentioned. The unfairness of publishing the names and pictures of the accused, but not the accuser; the allegations’ impact on the players’ futures; and the financial consequences of indictment were seemingly unworthy of comment.

Universities should respect and sustain their community members. The article might have stated, “We will believe, support, and stand by our students unless and until the case is legally decided against them.” It did not. Instead, the main point seemed to be, “Poor Duke. We are guilty of racial and gender discrimination, elitism, and alcohol abuse, but so are other universities. We’re just unlucky this incident has singled us out. Poor Duke has been traumatized, embarrassed, stigmatized, and stereotyped.”

The wheels of justice are turning and when, as it seems increasingly likely, the lacrosse players are exonerated, the university will truly be able to consider itself. “Poor Duke.” Poor because of the institution’s cowardly, self-pitying, politically correct apologia. Intellectual courage, integrity, solidarity, and fairness are qualities a university should exemplify and attempt to instill in its students – qualities as, one more important than, academic excellence. To the extent the lacrosse article reflects the administration, faculty, and student body response to what may well prove to be unfounded charges, politically correct expedience has supplanted honor as Duke’s preeminent virtue.

S. Boyd Eaton, ‘60
Atlanta, Georgia

At 5:46 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terrific letters Mrs. Fogarty and Mr. Jennison! Your voices are a breath of fresh air. We have been listening to countless lies from too many corners with too many agendas. It is good hearing from you.

I have faith that the “truth” will prevail in the end. And, as you are predicting, most of us will be better and stronger when that "end" arrives.

Duke Parent

At 5:58 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Originally published in Duke Magazine - September-October Issue)

Lacrosse Lessons

Amidst the sound and fury of the past few months, the head of the North Carolina NAACP stands as one of the rare voices of reason. He is quoted in Duke magazine as telling President Richard Brodhead, “If you ever want someone to come and stand by and talk about the damage that can be done by PREJUDGYING (emphasis added), by judging people because of a group they belong to and some theory you have of a group rather than ACTUAL EVIDENCE (emphasis added), you come to me.” Wish that President Brodhead and so many others of the “Duke family” were as judicious in their comments and actions.

Alan D. Davies M.D. ‘75
Dallas Texas

At 6:06 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mrs. Fogarty and Mr. Jennison for so eloquently expressing what those of us, who keep hoping to see this travesty end soon, feel about your sons.
Texas Mom

At 6:27 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mrs. Fogarty and Mr. Jennison, know that there are many, many people here and all over the web working tirelessly to right the wrongs you have endured.

Walter Abbott

At 7:23 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is depressing that the Duke administration and faculty has done so little to support both the unindicted and indicted players and their families, especially since the dimensions of the hoax have become apparent.

President Brodhead always mentionned "innocent until proven guilty" in his statements, but then acted as if the players were guilty.

Brodhead and the faculty have urged everyone to let the legal system handle questions of legal guilt or innocence. Yet, with few exceptions, they have not spoken out against Mike Nifong's outrages and the unwarranted delay in bringing the case to a resolution.

Parents don't desert their children when they get into trouble, yet Duke as an instituition has done this to the lacrosse team.

Duke has let the three indicted players twist in the wind, offering neither help, advice, assistance or comfort.

At 8:10 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:23 - I agree with you. The Duke administration let the team, and especially the three indicted players down in a big way.

On the positive side, it's good to hear that the families of the unindicted players are rebounding from this. Unfortunately, for the families of the indicted players it's nowhere close to being over.

At 9:11 PM, October 04, 2006, Blogger Greg Toombs said...

Duke has been diminished - not by the events surrounding the party of March 13th, but by the behavior and reactions on the part of its leadership.

Brodhead, Baker, Starn, Holloway and the rest of the 88, among others, have all been exposed for what they are, opportunists and climbers.

Frankly, I'd like to say we're better off for knowing who these people really are, but the lives of 3 kids and their families are hanging in the balance, so I think I'll wait until the facts are in and the case has ended.

The behavior of Brodhead and the others mentioned above have done more to diminish the reputation and attractiveness of Duke University than any tinpot dictator of a DA or others outside the university.

It's what's inside Duke thats rotten; it shows and it smells.

At 9:53 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above - I agree. What’s more, I can easily see Brodhead running around behind the scenes badmouthing these kids and the whole Lax team, so as to keep his supporters in the dark and completely mislead. He is capable of doing anything. But, these tactics will not work. The truth will prevail, and he will be exposed to the coward and liar that he is. It will happen sooner or later.

These, my friends, are the undeniable realities of life: the truth always shines through; you cannot destroy it; you cannot hide it, not for long anyway. Brodhead’s day in the sun will end; the pain these innocent kids and the entire Duke family has suffered will also end. It is only a matter of time. Patience, my friends, patience and faith, that’s what is needed.

At 10:01 PM, October 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:53 poster: Justice is also needed.

At 12:57 AM, October 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

R. Brodhead is a pawn, R. Steel Trinity class 73 should be given all the credit since day one.

At 2:06 PM, October 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms.Fogarty and Mr. Jennison:

Thank you for taking time and sharing your thoughts with us. Your sons, the team members, their parents, and Reade,Collin, and Dave are in my thoughts and prayers. Please know that we all stand behind you and will continue to do so till "our boys" are exonerated.

I agree with Joan Foster. "...your courage throughout this ordeal inspires each of us in our own lives." Once again, many thanks.

Best regards,
Duke07 Mom

At 7:45 PM, October 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duke Lacrosse fall tournament this Saturday Oct. 7th on Long Island at the Skelos Sports Complex in Rockville Centre.
11:00 Duke vs. Towson
2:00 Duke vs. Hofstra
4:00 Duke vs. NYIT
Come out and support the boys!

At 12:23 PM, October 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Profile in Courage
James E. Coleman, Jr.

Previously I wrote about Dave Evans, Kerstin Kimel, and Moezeldin Elmostafa to remind us not to forget that amid the darkness of the Duke Lacrosse Case, some true heroes have emerged. Essayist Hamilton Mabie wrote: “Remember, a kite rises against, not with the wind.” Sometimes heroes must rise up against the wind to lead and inspire us. Duke Professor James E. Coleman, Jr. is such a hero.

While 88 Duke Professors and members of the administration chose to sacrifice the lacrosse players to advance their own agenda, Professor Coleman and Coach Kerstin Kimel were the only Duke representatives to make any public statements supporting the lacrosse team. When Duke Administration officials and professors turned their backs on the Duke Lacrosse players, Professor Coleman faced the situation directly and was a calm voice of reason.

Professor Coleman’s legal credentials are impeccable. His impressive legal experience includes a clerkship for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and a partnership in a large law firm. He was assistant general counsel of Legal Services Corporation and served as a deputy general counsel for the U.S. Department of Education. Since 1996, Coleman has been a full time law professor at Duke University School of Law, where he teaches criminal law, legal ethics, negotiation and mediation, capital punishment and wrongful convictions. He served on North Carolina’s Actual Innocence Commission.

Winston Churchill said “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” I know little of Professor Coleman the man, yet because of his courage, it seems as though I know everything about him.

At the request of Duke President Richard Brodhead, Coleman headed Lacrosse Ad Hoc Review Committee, which examined the on and off campus conduct of its men’s lacrosse team and issued a report of their findings. The committee’s report of May 1, 2006 was fair and balanced. It reported that the ‘lacrosse players had performed well academically’ and the ‘team had distinguished itself athletically’. It described the lacrosse players as a ‘cohesive, hardworking, disciplined and respectful athletic team’, with no history of violence or racism. Coleman’s committee reported that a large number of the team members had been socially irresponsible when under the influence of alcohol, however the ‘nature of incidents in which the lacrosse players were involved did not differ from the nature of incidents in which other athletes were involved’. The committee found when he knew of problems, Coach Pressler had disciplined players.

The committee also found that procedures in place for monitoring students and informing coaches were inadequate. It recommended the lacrosse program be re-instated, with a code of conduct for all Duke athletes and a clearly articulated and enforced alcohol policy.

In June, Coleman called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to replace Nifong. “I don’t think he’s showing detached judgment. I personally have no confidence in him,” he said.

In his letter to the Raleigh News & Observer Coleman wrote, “This strongly suggests that the purpose of the identification process was to give the alleged victim an opportunity to pick three members of the lacrosse team who could be charged. Any three students would do; there could be no wrong choice.”

Coleman told Sport Illustrated, “To me, a prosecutor who’s willing to cut corners in any case is a prosecutor who’s subverting justice.”

Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes reported that Professor Coleman said the line-up ordered by the D.A. for the Duke Lacrosse case violated local, state and federal guidelines. Coleman should know. He helped establish guidelines in N.C. designed to protect against false identification in police line-ups.

Questioned by Bradley if he thought the D.A. had committed prosecutorial misconduct, Coleman responded, “Yes, I mean I think that’s the whole point…I think in this case, it appears that this prosecutor has set out to develop whatever evidence he could to convict people he already concluded were guilty.”

Coleman’s comments have consistently been fair, based on facts and law. With each heroic word to the press, his kite has soared higher. Watching Ed Bradley interview Coleman on 60 Minutes, I knew that this ‘man of the hour’ is an American hero.

Professor Coleman has shown the deep commitment that he has for his profession, his knowledge and respect for the law, and his interest in seeing justice is done. At the same time, he has restored our faith that the practice of law is a noble profession; that an attorney is foremost supposed to be a defender of the Constitution and an advocate of individual rights.

He has been a model of leadership by example and courage in action. With ‘justice’ lost in a sea of darkness, Coleman has been a lifeboat guiding her safely back to shore.

Professor James E. Coleman, Jr. is a true hero.

Joan Collins
Garden City, NY

At 1:02 PM, October 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you for another wonderful letter written about a very deserving individual. I could not agree more with your view of the professor.


At 3:00 PM, October 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo, Joan, Bravissimo!
Texas Mom

At 11:35 PM, October 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for another inspiring and beautifully written letter!

Your friend, Joan

At 7:32 AM, October 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

James Coleman for Durham County DA!!

At 7:35 AM, October 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Coleman for DA. What a great idea. I had not thought of that one.

At 12:11 PM, October 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above: I doubt he will take it. Who wants to become the Durham DA? I think the good professor deserves much better. I wish him the best and I like to see him in very important positions of his own choosing. Coleman can handle any responsibility no matter how large the challenge may be. He has "what it takes" to be a great man unlike Brodhead who is clearly running on empty. What a contrast between the two!

At 12:21 PM, October 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above. Well Monks for one.

At 9:46 AM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Profile in Courage - Beth Brewer

Lately I have written about quite a few heroes. Today I want to write about another hero. It is a name you may not recognize, but one I have come to admire and respect: Beth Brewer.

It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, "It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself." Beth is a Durham citizen who out of concern for her community is working diligently to make Durham better. Beth Brewer is the organizer and Chairperson for the Recall Nifong-Vote Cheek (RN-VC) campaign for District Attorney in Durham County, N.C. Beth Brewer is a true hero.

The Committee to Recall Nifong-Vote Cheek was formed in August 2006 out of concern for Durham. The purpose of the committee is to continue the efforts of the historical petition drive that resulted in more than 10,000 citizens stating their desire for an alternative to Mike Nifong on the ballot in November, by urging citizens to vote for Lewis Cheek. Letters sent to these 10,000 citizens have generated a flurry of support and the wave of support is growing. As each RN-VC lawn sign is put up, they reportedly are getting honks, thumbs up and offers to help. The committee now has well over 100 hard working and enthusiastic volunteers.

Beth Brewer and her group of RN-VC volunteers are trying to make a difference. They are living the words of anthropologist, Margaret Mead, who wrote "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

The word courage is derived from the French root word "coeur" which means heart. Courage is rooted in love, the love of people and things we care about. When we open our hearts to a person or issue, courage pours out from our hearts. Beth Brewer cares deeply about Durham.

She and her husband moved to Durham many years ago. They chose Durham for its excellent business opportunities and a great place to raise their family. Brewer's children were born in Durham and she immersed herself in her family, work and community. In these years, Brewer's career and her family flourished in Durham.

When the Durham that Ms. Brewer knew and loved became a target of nationwide ridicule and scorn, Beth decided it was time for a change. A change away from a District Attorney who is more willing to speak on national television than with witnesses and attorneys involved in a case. A change away from a District Attorney willing to tear a community apart for political gain. Something had to be done and someone had to do something. That is when Beth Brewer decided to get involved.

Ms. Brewer admittedly has no prior campaign experience, but she channeled her business and organizational skills to the RN-VC campaign and has never looked back. She volunteered to be the Spokesperson and a voice for the campaign. She has no affiliation with Duke (nor, as a matter of fact, do I). As a true grassroots movement, the campaign to Recall Nifong - Vote Cheek campaign has no headquarters, no salaried employees, no outsourcing of fundraising, and no hired political consultants. All participants in the campaign work on a purely voluntary basis.

Beth Brewer is working diligently to help defeat Nifong. She has no vested interest but love for her community and distaste for what she sees happening in Durham. Imagine the pressures of running a campaign with no prior political experience and with limited campaign resources. Ms. Brewer has done so with grace and courage.

I first heard Beth Brewer's voice when she was interviewed by Julia Lewis on WRAL(Interview 1). She was also later interviewed on North Carolina Public Radio(Interview 2). Hearing Brewer's voice brought back fond memories of my favorite aunt who lived in Fayetteville, N.C., just a short distance from Durham.

Working tirelessly for a better Durham has not been an easy task for Ms. Brewer. She has made many sacrifices. She continues to work full time and have full time family responsibilities. She has endured being subjected to the press referring to her as “Abbott and Costello”. Letters have been written about her in the press. In their ‘Dear Friends and Neighbors Letter’, the RN-VC committee eloquently stated “We believe this election is what the Durham that we love is about and, as such, requires a true and full measure of consideration by each of its citizens. We ask that Durham show, not only to Mr. Nifong, but also to Governor Easley and to the nation that watches, that Durham cares, that Durham has pride and, most importantly, that Durham has a voice."

We all have the potential to become courageous at any moment in time, but few of us take the next step and become heroes. Beth seized the moment. She did not step lightly into the RN-VC campaign. She took a heroic leap. Durham will be a better place for it.

The RN-VC’s campaign slogan is "The people of Durham County take back the District Attorney's office." The many ‘Thank you for what you are doing’ remarks she has received have inspired Beth. "We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history," said Sonia Johnson. Beth with her "coeur" may just do that.

After the election, Beth will return to her private life as a citizen of Durham. She will return to her home, her family and her career. In his book, “The Greatest Generation”, Tom Brokaw observed, "Heroes are people who rise to the occasion and slip quietly away." After the election, Beth will slip quietly away, but her contribution will not be forgotten. Beth Brewer is a true hero.

Joan Collins
Garden City, N.Y.

At 9:47 AM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, I am so glad you are writing about Beth Brewer. Sometimes, as amazing as it may sound, real heroes go unnoticed. I would not want Beth Brewer to go unnoticed simply because there is so much in her that we should emulate. Beth Brewer makes this world a better place. I salute her for her courage and for showing us how to be good citizens.


At 10:05 AM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, after writing about James Coleman, I was wondering how you would follow it up. But, I now see that you have done it nicely. Beth Brewer is a good follow up. I think even professor will agree. Thank you for letting us know a little more about Beth Brewer – a truly courageous woman who deserves our respect.

A Duke Friend

At 11:46 AM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, some of you guys are carrying this "hero" stuff a bit too far. Can anyone say HYPERBOLE?

Any resident of Durham would want to do something so that their real estate market doesn't suffer more than it already does. Everyone who moves to the Triangle buys a home in Cary, Chapel Hill, or anywhere but Durham. It doesn't take a "hero" to look out for the appreciation vs. the depreciation of your house and your business.

And James Coleman is a very intelligent and stand-up man, indeed; however, "hero" is a stretch. He has been doing what any good instructor of the law would do---bring attention to how Nifong has broken the law and violated the ethics of the Bar.

Coleman is in a most enviable position at Duke University. No matter how he ruffles the feathers of the other faculty and the administration, he need never worry about his ouster. Duke is clawing for more highly qualified black faculty members. They would never touch Coleman, especially for doing the right thing as he has done in this case.

So you see, Coleman has a soft nest of feathers no matter what, and will garner respect from those on both sides.

One is a "hero" when he or she goes against the flow while running the risk of great loss, financially and otherwise.

Coleman is great, but please, if a writer wishes to continually massage his/her Thesaurus and deposit quotes from historical figures---keep the focus on the three falsely accused Duke lacrosse players.

Not yourselves.

Some of this hyperbole borders on soap opera.

Lastly, some of us came out immediately and publicly against Nifong's tactics before it became popular. His speaking so openly about the case, initially, was reason enough to replace him.

Where were these "heros"--except for Coleman whose Committee showed great fairness--early on? Before it became popular for the entire country to get on board behind the falsely accused lacrosse players?

At 12:08 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Websters definition of hero:
- a man admired for his achievements and qualities
- one that shows great courage

At 12:18 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above: I can see your point of view, but when you consider that from 700 plus Duke professors only James Coleman had the courage to tell the truth, I simply cannot see the man as just doing “the right thing”.

No, Coleman is doing more than “the right thing”. He is standing up for truth and justice when nobody else who gets paid by Duke is willing to do. That is courage in my book. Plus, you give too much credit to the lunatics running Duke. Nobody may be as protected as you are suggesting in Duke because of their skin color or qualifications (jus look at the coach K situation). The same people who saw fit to destroy the reputation of the university and tear it apart may see fit to hurt people like Coleman. They are capable of doing anything to protect, and cover, their backsides.

At 12:33 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coleman is a hero and he proved it in front of 17 million viewers. I don't believe heroes make decisions based on dollars and cents. After the events of the past 7 months, if Prof. Coleman is not a hero, who is?

At 1:37 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I concur that Coleman is about the only bright light on the Duke faculty these days. Personally, I think he's great. And I also concur that those bizarre people who are supporting Mike Nifong might seek to do him harm, but they won't.

It's impossible to explain to you the emotional / psychological dynamics in the black community. They will treat him the way they treat Condi Rice: with disdain, ad hominems, and lots of "Uncle Tom" jargon; however, on some level they are also very proud of him and respect him for his accomplishments.....IMHO.

My comments were really addressing the way a few use these boards to massage their own egos.

"Oh! Go over and read that extraordinary column! Oh my! It's just so stupendous! How does she do that! ????"

This Oprah-esque crap just gets old. These boards are about three young men who have been railroaded. Not about whom someone thinks is a "hero" and exaggerated, hyperbolic quotes, if anyone is interested.

At 1:37 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I concur that Coleman is about the only bright light on the Duke faculty these days. Personally, I think he's great. And I also concur that those bizarre people who are supporting Mike Nifong might seek to do him harm, but they won't.

It's impossible to explain to you the emotional / psychological dynamics in the black community. They will treat him the way they treat Condi Rice: with disdain, ad hominems, and lots of "Uncle Tom" jargon; however, on some level they are also very proud of him and respect him for his accomplishments.....IMHO.

My comments were really addressing the way a few use these boards to massage their own egos.

"Oh! Go over and read that extraordinary column! Oh my! It's just so stupendous! How does she do that! ????"

This Oprah-esque crap just gets old. These boards are about three young men who have been railroaded. Not about whom someone thinks is a "hero" and exaggerated, hyperbolic quotes, if anyone is interested.

At 1:44 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above: Nobody is forcing anyone to read anything. When you saw the title, you could have skipped it. There is really no need to make comments like that. Sometimes a little silence can go a long way too.

At 3:10 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A campaign needs leadership and that is what Beth is providing. There wouldn't be a RN-VC campaign without her. Cheek beating Nifong and the Gov, appointing a new DA could change everything for the LAX players and Durham. In my book, Beth is a hero.

At 4:27 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re above: I second that thought.

At 4:48 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lastly, some of us came out immediately and publicly against Nifong's tactics before it became popular. His speaking so openly about the case, initially, was reason enough to replace him.

Where were these "heros"--except for Coleman whose Committee showed great fairness--early on? Before it became popular for the entire country to get on board behind the falsely accused lacrosse players?

If you are one of those that "came out immediately and publicly, why are you posting anonymously? You should be proud of yourself. Who are you?

At 8:43 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan Collins takes time out of her day , out of her busy life, to write these inspiring her way of showing support for the boys and their family. To criticise someone who is giving of her time and talent seems so out of line. We all try to help in the ways we can. Joan's pieces have touched the families...would you object to that comfort?

I look for each one of her writings...and they help me, in a case so filled with agendas and self protection, to remember there are a few good people who stepped out and stood up for the boys.

Thank you, Joan, And , thank you, Beth Brewer. Beth has been tireless..and I doubt it is for her real estate values. Haven't you ever met people who genuinely care for others? Joan and Beth are two of them.

At 11:20 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is just amazing to me that someone would claim that Professor Coleman is not a hero, or that Beth Brewer is not a hero. Amazing that someone would do that, while claiming that anybody would do what Professor Coleman or Beth Brewer are doing.
Please. How many Duke Professors came forward and said Nifong is committing prosecutorial misconduct? How many people were not afraid to stand up to Nifong and form a committee so Nifong can be recalled? Anybody would do that? I don’t think so. Both Professor Coleman and Beth Brewer are true heroes and an inspiration to us all.

At 11:23 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dear 1:37 PM. Methinks you are jealous. Because nobody is going to read your comment-and claim "it's amazing" or "go and read what 1:37PM just wrote."

At 8:58 AM, October 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear FODU,

Recently, I posted a Profile of Courage on Beth Brewer as well as Prof. James Coleman. Where I live, you can not have a letter published without signing your name.

Some of the comments are surprising. I am not a writer, nor am I a reporter. I certainly am not looking for personal attention.

I admit I have used some quotes, but I have always given credit to the person who said or wrote them and I was merely trying to show how they have relevancy today.

Courageous people don't make heroic decisions based on financial consideration.

I interviewed Ms. Brewer for the profile piece. My question is why haven't the local press written about Ms. Brewer?

Thank God for our heroes! Thank you FODU for your continued support.

At 10:57 AM, October 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For anyone to claim that either James Coleman or Beth Brewer is not a hero there can only be three explanations. First, the poster is working for Nifong. Second, the poster is working for Brodhead. Third, the poster is working for Steve Monks.

It is as simple as that! There are trolls sometimes causing trouble on websites. This was one of those. We should not take it seriously. Jealousy was oozing from that message, and should be safely ignored. For all we know it could have been posted by someone working on Nifong's or Monk's election campaign.

At 2:46 PM, October 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know about "heroes", but I do know that Mike Nifong has been working in the district attorney's office for almost thirty years. Did none of these people in Durham know how corrupt their legal system and their police department was until now?

Now that the national spotlight is on Durham?

A question that few want to answer, but a very important one when sizing up the people who live in such a place.

At 6:33 PM, October 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes. Freda Black knew how corrupt Nyfong was.

At 8:36 PM, October 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, and Freda Black would have beaten Nifong.....but for his "hero" act to save the "black girl" from white "hooligans" get the black vote which put him over the top.

Have to agree with James Coleman and others who have written letters and columns in the local papers: What Nifong did to get the black vote was disgusting.

At 4:27 PM, November 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Profile in Courage
My Meeting With The Finnertys

Amid the darkness of the Duke Lacrosse Case, some true heroes have emerged. Sometimes being a hero means having the courage to carry on to see through what life has handed you. Perhaps Robert Frost said it best when he wrote “The best way out is always through.” The Finnertys are a family of true heroes.

Recently, I received an email: “I am Collin Finnerty’s mother. Would love to meet and talk at some time if you are free.” We arranged to meet for breakfast at a local coffee shop a few days later. We could find one another by our Duke Lacrosse wristbands.

We live in the same village, but I live in a small house on the other side of town. I wondered what I would say and what we might have in common. As I walked into the coffee shop, I remembered a cliché my mother often used “You can’t tell a book by its cover”. What I would learn in the next hour would surprise me.

I noticed that Mary Ellen Finnerty was wearing the same wedding band as I, only her ring was the plainer version without the diamonds. In all the years that I have been married, I had never seen the ring on another hand. What a strange coincidence.

Mary Ellen and Kevin Finnerty have been happily married for 27 years. They have 5 children; 3 sons and 2 daughters. They moved to Garden City three years ago. We talked about the reasons why we had moved here. My reasons were straight forward. My husband and I wanted an easy commute into the city and a good school district. The Finnerty’s reasons for moving to Garden City were very different and not at all what I had expected. They moved to be closer to and to help care for Mrs. Finnerty’s elderly mother who lives in an apartment in town. For several years after they moved, their children continued to attend their old schools so as to not disrupt their education.

Mrs. Finnerty shared with me that her mother is legally blind. I was moved by this as my late mother had suffered from legal blindness since I was a child. We talked about our mothers struggling to read with the help of binocular type eyeglasses and machines. We spoke of the difficulties in managing steps, being unable to drive, being unable able to read the newspaper, to do grocery shopping or pay their own bills. These are all the things people take for granted. When I told Mrs. Finnerty that I had cooked dinners for my family as a child, she nodded understandingly. Mrs. Finnerty is well experienced in caring for others. Her father passed away suddenly when she was just 19. At the time she was attending an out of state college. She transferred to a local university to live with and provide emotional support for her mother. Ironically, Collin now takes a class at same university.

People have commented on Collin’s father, Kevin Finnerty’s, great strength throughout this ordeal. It was his face we first saw sitting in the courtroom next to Collin. This is something a father would do for his son and to spare his wife. It is the father who carries the weight of the Duke Lacrosse case on his shoulders, while the mother carries the pain in her heart. The pressures of Mr. Finnerty’s business responsibilities continue. A mother is the heart of the family and everyone looks to her for her unconditional love, compassion and understanding. Imagine the feeling of helplessness of parents watching their son endure an ordeal such as this because “a lie travels farther than the truth”.

The Finnerty’s attorney has told them that this is a defining moment in their lives. It permeates every facet of their lives. Even their out of state summer vacation plans with the entire family had to be approved. While the ‘fantastic lies’ unravel and the legal work continues, so do their lives. They need to care for younger children. The family meals, homework, book reports, orthodontia appointments, sports and social activities do not stop. Every parent understands how challenging this can be under normal situations, especially for large families. Imagine having to do this under the current circumstances. They must carry on so their family can have a sense of normalcy. Throughout this travesty, the Finnertys have conducted themselves with grace and dignity.

We discussed the grieving process that as a parent you have no choice but to stay strong as your children look to you for strength. Only when you are alone in your room do you have the luxury to grieve. The stages of grief are similar to a death. This is probably best described in Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ book “On Death and Dying, where she identified the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Mrs. Finnerty told me that after her father’s death that this book became her Bible.

The Finnertys are now in the acceptance stage. They recognize they have to deal with this situation and go all the way to conclusion to ensure justice is done. What sustains them is their strong faith and knowing their son is innocent. I reminded Mrs. Finnerty that sometimes positive things come out of tragedies, for example Meghan’s law has helped so many children. In this instance, perhaps the justice system will be improved so that no parent has to watch their child suffer this kind of injustice again.

One of the last things we spoke about was the upcoming holidays. Mrs. Finnerty said she did not think she would be sending Christmas cards this year, but Collin thought she should. She asked my opinion. “I agree with Collin. You should continue with your traditions and celebrations. You must not let them take that away from you,” I replied. Mary Ellen then said “Well, I have a photo of the five of them in the pool while on vacation, but what could I write on the cards after Merry Christmas and Happy New Year?” I suggested, “Please keep us in your prayers.”

At Mary Ellen Finnerty's suggestion, a few weeks later I returned back to the same coffee shop to meet Collin. He was soft spoken and modest. He said initially he had planned on going to college in Pennsylvania because he and the lacrosse coach there really got along well. However, at the last minute they found a spot for him on the Duke Lacrosse team. Collin chose Duke because they had a stronger lacrosse team and his older brother was at Duke at the time. Collin
decided to follow his older brother and even chose the same major, history.

Collin was able to complete his second year of courses at Duke and is currently taking one challenging course at a local college. He misses school and is anxious to return, but can not do so until everything is sorted out. Collin currently works for a charitable foundation that does sporting events to raise funds to help seriously ill children, which he said he finds rewarding.

Collin has never met or spoken with DA Mike Nifong. The only time he has ever seen Nifong is in court and they did not make contact. He has also never spoken with President Brodhead.

Collin was interviewed by Ed Bradley of "60 Minutes" in August and found him easy to talk with. The national attention that the case has received has been difficult, but he appreciates the support he has received. So much had been taken away from him, but Collin finds strength is what remains behind, namely the love of his family and the support of his friends, including his girlfriend of three years.

As I watched Collin and his mother interact, I witnessed first hand the love that this mother and son have for one another. These past eight months have only strengthened the bond between them. The old Irish proverb is true: “A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.”

When I asked what message they would you like people to know, Collin and Mary Ellen told me they have the truth on their side and that they can not wait for everyone else to know it. Knowing that people understand this is a hoax and feel the pain these false accusations have caused them helps them get through each day.

“Courage takes many forms. There is physical courage, there is moral courage. Then there is a still higher type of courage - the courage to brave pain, to live with it, to never let others know of it and to still find joy in life; to wake up in the morning with an enthusiasm for the day ahead.” These poignant words of the late sports journalist, Howard Cosell, best describe how the Finnerty family is courageously living each day.

We are all different, but if we open our hearts and look for the common ground, then we will find it. As I drove back to my home across town, I thought of my mother’s words and said to myself “Mom, you were right!”

By Joan Collins
Garden City, NY

At 5:14 PM, November 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, sometimes we forget what these three families are going through. Reading your letter reminded me all the pain and suffering that these families must have gone through over the past 8 months. And, to imagine that this may continue for another year or so! Where and how do these families find the strength and courage to carry on? Sometimes I try to imagine that this was happening to me. Even the idea of it is too much for me to bear. These families have indeed shown great strength and dignity under the worst of circumstances. They deserve our respect.

Thank you for giving us this small glimpse into the lives of these families. Our prayers and best wishes are with them. They will remain in hearts until this injustice ends.

A Duke Friend

At 6:21 PM, November 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you so much for your letter. Please let the Finnertys, Seligmanns and Evanses know that there are countless unknown friends "out in the ether" who care deeply about them and their families- "there but for the Grace of..."

I sometimes have a hard time trying to make lemonade out of the lemons of this Hoax, but I keep thinking that something good MUST come out of what the Duke 3 and their families have been through. It's just not clear to any of us now- and it is certainly not what any of us would choose for our children as a "character building experience."

I sit out here in Houston, wondering HOW this could be happening, in the United States, in a country governed by laws, in 2006. I cannot imagine how consumed by this all of the families must be. I must confess to hoping that a special place in Hades is reserved for the people who perpetrated this travesty upon innocent young men and all who love them.

Texas Mom

At 6:28 PM, November 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, thank you for sharing your meeting with the Finnertys with us. Your beautiful writing makes us feel as if we were there with you.Collin and his family are in the thoughts and prayers of many.

Thank you again for this beautiful piece!

At 11:49 PM, November 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was great of you to share that with us. It sounds like Collin has the support I hope all the defendants are getting.


At 5:15 PM, November 15, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, I'm sure I speak for many, many people - thank you. And yes, Mary Ellen should send the Christmas cards. Her friends will be glad to hear from her. Many years ago, I miscarried (24 weeks) on December 24th - after I had sent Christmas cards saying that we were expecting a little boy. Though it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, I sent letters saying that we had lost him. I think each card that Mary Ellen writes will be equally painful - so much has been stolen from her - but she must write them because she will be writing to people who care specifically about her, Collin, and her family.


At 4:49 PM, November 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A wonderful article.I would imagine one of the most frustrating aspects for the families of the victims is the sheer randomness of the accusations.If the accuser had chosen 3 other LAX players,my relative/friend would not be undergoing this.
That being said,I am happy at least for Mr. Seligman's victimization because of the ATM evidence.
I am baffled by the defenders of the accuser.Certainly,It approaches impossibility to believe there was a rape.Yet,the desire to portray her a victim is unabated.Could anyone help me understand this?
ALSO,I blog so seldomly,I've forgotten my password.Since iI want to sign my name I will take this opportunity.
Colin Elliott

At 2:07 PM, November 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Originally published on College Confidential (CC) on November 19, 2006.

by IrishForever

My nephew met Reade not long ago, and was in a long conversation with him. Said he was just the nicest kid, and trying to be as upbeat as possible. And Joan Collins just wrote a wonderful piece about having gotten together with the Finnerty family, whom she had never met. With people talking about families buying their kids' way out of trouble, or coddling them, I was thinking that, in fact, the families of these young men have done their best to keep a low profile, and try to have as normal a life as possible under the circumstances. There are younger siblings in both the Seligmann and Finnerty families (not sure about the Evans' family) and this is absolutely devastating to everyone involved.

I am trying to give thanks this Thursday that our family was just together, and that we were/are all happy and healthy, and what an incredible blessing that is. We will hopefully be all together again this week (with even more family), having dinner, watching football and doing our annual gingerbread house baking and decorating. But in my thanks I will not forget to keep those other families in my prayers that by next Thanksgiving this will all be in the past, and that they will have moved on with their lives. They do not deserve to be spending the Holidays under these circumstances. I will keep all of you CC'ers in my Thanksgiving thoughts, as well!!

At 7:42 PM, January 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Profiles in Courage
The Other Duke Lacrosse Moms

“Men are what their mothers made them,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. Mothers and sons have a unique bond. Ask any mother. Ask any son. A mother is the first woman to love him unconditionally. As he grows into the man you hope he will one day become, no matter how tall he grows, or old he becomes, you are still his mother and he will always be your child.

When the hoax was born, the “eclipse of justice” cast a wide shadow enveloping all the families of the 47 players of the Men’s 2006 Duke Lacrosse Team. People deal with difficult situations very differently, some privately and others more publicly. Whatever way they choose to deal with their pain should be respected. This article is based on conversations with five courageous mothers willing to share how the hoax has affected them and their families. At the onset, all made it very clear that their pain pales in comparison to that which the Finnerty, Seligmann and Evans families have experienced and continue to endure. None of them were looking for attention. Quite the opposite, they want their private lives back. However, all thought it important for people to recognize that so many families have been devastated by the hoax. The five resolute mothers are Gale Catalino, Barbara Loftus, Sherri McFadyen, Susan Wolcott and Nina Zash. Here is a sample of their stories.

The “Other Duke Lacrosse Moms” hail from Texas, New Jersey and New York. The common thread is that they are the mothers of sons who went to Duke University and played on the Mens 2006 Duke Lacrosse Team; some have since graduated, while others continue their education at Duke.

One of the major events in a young man’s life is going off to college. The mothers reminisced about happier times, when they first learned their sons had been accepted at Duke. It was a time filled with great excitement and pride. It represented the culmination of years of hard work as both gifted students and talented athletes.

Mrs. Zash, spoke about her son, Matt, who was a senior and a 2-year Captain. Matt had grown up in a middle class community in NY, a town known as a nice place to raise a family. It is the same town his parents, high school sweethearts, had grown up in. The local public schools have a reputation for being fierce competitors on the athletic field. Matt attended these schools and was an icon in his hometown. Matt was accepted to Duke as early decision candidate. He was All American 2004 and 2005.

Mrs. Catalino’s son, Michael, was a freshman. Michael is the product of upstate New York public schools and currently hopes to become a doctor one day. Michael was recruited by most Division I schools, and turned down Ivy League schools, to attend Duke. “At Duke, my son’s education was valued and prioritized above athletics. He went to Duke first for its education and secondly to play lacrosse and Coach Pressler “was sensitive to that. We felt comfortable that Duke’s staff were as concerned with Mike’s well being as we were”, said Mrs. Catalino.

Mrs. McFadyen’s son, Ryan, was a sophomore. Ryan heard of his acceptance to Duke in September of his senior year of high school. It was such a proud moment. Mrs. McFadyen and her husband celebrated by buying balloons and a CD of the 1960’s popular song “Devil in a Blue Dress.”

Mrs. Loftus had two sons on the Duke Lacrosse team. Their elder son, Danny, was a junior and goalie for the team. Chris was a sophomore. Her husband is a retired Captain in New York City Fire Department. The Loftus brothers were products of New York public schools. When Mrs. Loftus and her husband first heard their elder son Danny was accepted at Duke they were “ecstatic”. Then when Chris was accepted they thought what could be better. “Getting accepted to Duke was a badge of honor. What more could a parent want”, said Mrs. Loftus.

Mrs. Wolcott, a proud Texan, vividly recalled the day her son, William, was accepted at Duke. Her son knew Coach Pressler from attending Duke Summer lacrosse camp. Mike Pressler called to offer the invitation while they were with his high lacrosse school team at a Spring Break Tournament. Mrs. Wolcott remembered, “We were in a restaurant and William went out to take the call. The whole team knew what was up and cheered loudly when William returned with a huge grin on his face. It was very exciting as William would have the honor of being the first Texan recruited to play at Duke.”

After the party of March 13 and 14, when the hoax was born, several of the team mothers almost immediately predicted this would become Tawana Brawley II. A large shadow was cast on the Men’s Duke Lacrosse Team that would change the lives of many people.

All the members of the lacrosse team, except for one, (African American goalie, Devon Sherwood), were immediately under a cloud of suspicion. Without their parents knowledge they submitted DNA. One young man called his mother the next day and started the conversation with “I need to talk to you about something”, words that cause great concern for most parents. Photographs of the players were plastered on wanted posters on Duke’s campus. There were protestors and marches. The New Black Panthers visited Durham. Threats were made. The major news media was relentless. These were very difficult times for the mothers and fathers, the sons and their families. Some of the phrases used to describe their feelings were frightening, roller coaster and constant dismay at the justice system.

The mothers were asked to reflect over the past ten months and identify an event or moment that touched them personally. Here are their poignant responses.

As team captain, Matt was living in the house at 610 N. Buchanan. With angry protestors surrounding the house, the media in frenzy, and the New Black Panthers in town, Matt was forced to leave the house. With no safe haven to go, at one point, he was living out of his car. His parents visited each weekend, just to see him and make sure he was safe. “My husband and I went down to visit him. This kid had tried to walk the straight and narrow everyday and set an example and he was searching for a shirt in the trunk of his car. We watched him change his clothes in the parking lot. I thought I would die of a broken heart that day”, said Mrs. Zash.

For Mrs. Loftus, the most memorable moment was “stopping at a gas station on the way to work, I saw Collin Finnerty’s face on the front page of Newsday. I thought to myself “how did the world come to this?”

Mrs. McFayden described “the feeling of helplessness of watching Ryan weep uncontrollably on his father’s shoulder as he heard that his friends and teammates, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, had been indicted and being unable to console him.”

The Catalino’s attorney called in April to tell them there would be indictments and “It’s not who you think it is”. Up to this point, the media seemed to be targeting the players who lived in the N. Buchanan house. “This revelation put us all on edge, as we knew that any one of our son’s could have been indicted that morning. The best analogy would be similar to a firing squad with 46 players, not knowing who the targets were. “We picked up our son and drove to Greensboro to spend the night prior to the indictments. We didn’t want him to be in Durham not knowing what to expect.” Unable to eat as they sat down at breakfast with their son, they asked him “Do you understand that could be you?” That morning they told their son that if he was “picked” they did not have the funds to provide bail. “I felt like I couldn’t protect my children from the media and the assault on our family, and knowing that the accusations weren’t true offered little comfort”, said Mrs. Catalino.

A dedicated student, Mrs. Catalino’s son decided the best way for him to support his team was to continue his studies and prepare for exams. With the New Black Panthers in town, at Mrs. Catalino’s request, Michael’s father and uncle flew to Durham to accompany his freshman son around campus and to his chemistry exam. “At that time the Duke campus was perceived by us as a campus whose security was being compromised by outside forces with no reassurance that our son’s safety was protected”.

Mrs. Wolcott reflected on the senior dinner on Saturday before the graduation ceremonies. “Dave Evans spoke as Team Captain, Senior, and a young man facing indictment within 48 hours about his confidence his family would see him through what was ahead,” said Mrs. Wolcott.

Time did not stop for the hoax. These are busy women. Some work outside the home. They are the mothers’ of 18 children, many with other active children to care for. They had no choice but to carry on.

Mrs. Zash’s only daughter became engaged Christmas 2005, a special time in the life of a young woman, and they had just started making wedding plans. She and her husband would fly down to Durham on Saturday and return on Sunday. “We would literally walk in the door on Sundays and my daughter and I would take off to look at wedding halls, wedding gowns or flowers. I had to try and shift gears and turn into a normal mom so my daughter and I would not be deprived of one of the most special times in both of our lives,” said Mrs. Zash. Her newlywed elder son was spending 3 to 4 nights a week at their home comforting his parents and siblings.

Mrs. Catalino experienced another tragedy immediately prior to the hoax. Her father passed away in February 2006, just weeks before the hoax. Coach Pressler, whom the Catalino family refer to as “Pastor Pressler” helped to ensure that Michael joined the rest of his family in being with his grandmother later that evening. Mrs. Catalino stayed with her mother for several weeks until shortly before the hoax began. She still has not yet had time to grieve her father’s death.

Mrs. Wolcott’s middle daughter got “lost” in the hyper focus on her older brother, until her parents realized she needed love and attention. She was kept home from college this fall, but thankfully is doing better and will be spending next semester abroad.

Mrs. Loftus described a very busy, hectic family schedule. Her daughter, a junior in high school was preparing for her SAT’s. Another lacrosse mother volunteered to tutor her daughter in physics.

Mrs. McFadyen’s son, Ryan, wrote the “infamous email” that went around the world. Her emotions have changed from disbelief and embarrassment to anger. While she does not condone the language of the email, it was a private email taken out of context. Only after a few weeks was it reported that it was based on “American Psycho”, a novel by Bret Easton Ellis taught in three courses offered at Duke and made into a popular movie starring Christian Bale. Mrs. McFadyen’s daughters and their classmates, who had seen the film, recognized it immediately. Ryan was suspended for a time. His father flew to Durham. Another player went to her son’s room, threw a few of Ryan’s things in a bag and brought it to him. Ryan and his father drove home to New Jersey in Ryan’s car that night. The media was relentless, calling and filming her house. Her husband could not face people for months. Even through the most difficult moments, Mrs. McFadyen knew she was blessed because she and Ryan were so close, and this travesty further strengthened their relationship. Mrs. McFadyen expressed gratitude for the kindness and support her family received during these difficult times from members of her community, church and the team.

The mothers and families of the teams have tried to provide support systems for each other. Their faith has helped them to get through these difficult times. Mrs. Catalino, said she did not know how she got through that Monday morning the first indictments were handed down, until she realized she had lived the words of the famous poem “Footprints in the Sand”:

The Lord replied,
The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
Is when I carried you

Rather than pitying themselves, the mothers have tried to channel their energies to positive things. Mrs. Wolcott formed the Concerned Mothers for Duke Students. She said one of the most reassuring things she did was going to Durham for the December 15 hearing and experiencing the courage of the families of the indicted players. She and her son work on fundraising for the Legal Defense Fund. Mrs. Zash continues to work on communications for the “Devil’s Advocate”, a lacrosse booster club.

When some of the teachers at their public school began asking her children who do you think did it, Mrs. Catalino decided to empower her children. It was her daughters who suggested the idea of the Duke Lacrosse wristbands, which then became a fundraiser. Individuals and families in 48 states and 5 countries have distributed over 30,000 wristbands. The bands are not for sale but are offered by donation with all proceeds going to the Association for Truth and Fairness to help defray the costs of legal fees and to insure that truthful information is communicated to the general public. One daughter produced a film “We’re Back”. Another daughter provides monthly current event updates on the case to her class.

Mrs. McFadyen spends two to three hours daily on the Internet, searching for someone to finally see the light and dismiss this “hoax” of a case.

When I asked the mothers what messages they would like others to know they said the following:

Nina Zash: “Perhaps someday, someone will gain something from the collective suffering of 46 families. I’d give anything if my son, those three wrongly accused young men, the coach and the rest of the team could have been spared this ordeal. I look to the future with the hope that I will be shown some reason, somehow for all our pain.”

Sherri McFadyen: “This lacrosse team is the most respectful, polite, kind, helpful group of guys that anyone would be so proud to know. Words cannot begin to express how I feel towards them all. It is a travesty how they have been portrayed. Nothing could be further from the truth. We want justice which has been completely lost in this entire case from day one.”

Barbara Loftus: “If this case had not gotten national attention and public outcry, I don’t know what would have happened.”

Susan Wolcott: “Every mother who has a son should be invested in this travesty of justice. There should be no racial lines drawn. Not only is my son always in my prayers, but also three outstanding young men named Collin, Reade and David. To Mary Ellen, Kathy and Rae, we love you dearly and we will fight with all the strength and resources we have until your sons are freed from this horrible hoax. We will now always be a family in the greater sense.”

Gale Catalino: “I realized very early that we all needed to do whatever we could to fight for Dave, Reade and Collin and for justice in this case. It had to be done. Whether it was a letter, or a donation, whatever was within our means.”

The mothers spoke with great respect of Coach Pressler and said the season should never have been cancelled. Pressler took care of their sons as he promised he would. He took pride that his team has the highest average ACC team G.P.A. average. Those mothers whose sons are currently at Duke said the one thing Duke did right was hiring John Danowski as coach. Though they miss Mike Pressler and regret what he has gone through, they are grateful their sons are in Coach Danowski’s capable hands. As a father of one of the Duke Lacrosse players himself, he understands and has been a coach, father figure, and friend and is helping to heal their sons.

Not having their son picked as one of the three indicted boys brought relief, but then outrage. One mother described “steeling” herself prior to that awful Monday with the thought that she and her family were strong. “My son was not guilty of any crime, nor is anyone else. That is what makes this all so maddening. We learned early that Monday in April that our son would not be indicted. It was a relief that was followed by shock that Reade and Collin had been falsely accused,” said Mrs. Wolcott. Along with the outrage, there was great sadness knowing what the Finnerty, Seligmann and Evans family would have to face.

Mrs. Loftus’ husband, Brian, was a Captain in the NYC Fire Department on September 11, 2001. He responded to the call, watched World Trade Tower #7 go down and was involved in recovery operations. Although the two events are obviously very different, I asked Mrs. Loftus if she thought there were any similarities in the emotions she felt. She spoke of going to so many funerals for the victims of 9/11 and seeing so much pain on peoples’ faces. She thought of the pain of knowing someone’s kids could go to jail when “nothing happened”. “What could be worse than kids could go to jail for nothing?” asked Mrs. Loftus.

The hoax has caused so much pain for all the families of the 47 players. At the same time, the mothers described even stronger bonds with their husbands and children. The moms look at their sons with pride and admiration as they try to carry on with their lives. This is the resilience of youth. They know the truth is that nothing happened that night. The mothers stand in unity with the Finnerty, Seligmann and Evans families that Collin, Reade and Dave were wrongly indicted on charges for which they are absolutely innocent. Only when this “eclipse of justice” finally ends can peace return to these mothers’ hearts.

Joan Collins
Garden City, N.Y.

At 9:30 PM, January 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a great shame what these families went through because of a bunch of lies. It is a great shame!

My prayers and best wishes are with all the families. I hope happier days will arrive soon, and these sad days will become a distant memory. Hold on and stay strong, it is almost over…

A friend

At 10:26 AM, January 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, a wonderful tribute to these courageous mothers. Their story is very compelling. In fact, it would be wonderful to have each Lacrosse mom write her own short story to be compiled into a book. How inspirational their messages would be.

At 11:30 AM, January 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

evil in north carolina

At 12:14 PM, January 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Duke mothers.
Your outrage is shared by many more than you will ever know. Multitudes are watching this and justice will prevail.
Where do I give for the defense of these future leaders?

At 2:15 PM, January 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Duke Lacrosse team members, their families and friends who have sufferred as a result of "The Hoax"...I offer my deepest sympathies and regrets that this travesty has taken place. I hope (I am an American who happens to be be descendant of slaves and who served in our Army for 23 years after graduating from West Point) that the actions and utterings of fools (not too harsh a term)will not taint your view of all members of my race.

At 2:34 PM, January 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, as a mother your article brought tears to my eyes. I have followed the case closely and pray it will be resolved to let these young men go on with their lives. In reading on the web, however, it is scary to see how many have villified and continue to condemn these young men while extolling the accuser. In fact, it seems that there is a lot of this sentiment on the Duke campus, at the highest level of the administration.

At 2:45 PM, January 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 2:46 PM, January 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish President Brodhead and the members of the Duke board of trustees would read this profile and see what they have been putting these people through. Maybe, just maybe, they will begin to understand why so many of us are so angry at them.

We expected more from our university.

I pray that this hoax ends soon and these innocent people get their lives back.

At 11:32 PM, January 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan - what a wonderful piece. Thank you. Hearing from the families, so harmed by this travesty, solidifies my resolve. Justice will prevail (soon I hope).

Thanks again Joan.


At 3:04 AM, January 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Duke graduate, I have been eager to see my own daughter become a graduate student there. Now I find myself doubting the school I love so much... the faculty members who were so eager to sacrifice justice and rule of law for their own political agendae; and a president and trustees who let it go too far.

At 9:49 AM, January 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the parents of the indicted AND unindicted players sue Mike Nifong, Durham PD (co-conspirators in this lunacy, Duke University and every individual faculty member who signed the infamous "88" letter. The defamation and resultant damage is clear and may be assuaged with monetary awards to help pay legal bills, etc. The damage to Duke's reputation is irreparable in the near term however. I hear applications were down 20% this year. Wait until they see how many of the students the accepted candidates actually choose to attend. My daughter was recruited by Duke this year for athletics. We visited and the coach and program were very impressive. However she is headed to Dartmouth next year. My son who is a junior in high school and has wanted to attend Duke since he was about 10 now won't even consider it (he visited with us as well). These conversations and decisions are taking place in homes all across the country. The Duke "brand" has been seriously compromised by the feckless administration.

At 12:19 PM, January 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the band of Duke lacrosse mothers-We admire your courage and effectiveness in making a difference in this case and in every day life as tremendous mothers. You have the right stuff, keep up the good fight. We are so very proud of you. Love to all. A proud Duke lacrosse grandparent. G. Holman King, Granbury, TX

At 2:05 PM, January 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born and bred in the NY area. I moved to Durham 10 years ago and have worked at Duke almost the entire time. What the entire world can now see is the unfair treatment of whites by Duke and by the city of Durham. Us employees of Duke thought the discrepancies was just for us. It sickens us to see it is for the folks paying them 40K a year too. When things concerning employees happen at Duke, the white person is wrong and the black person gets a promotion. It is pretty sorry that Duke made all their money from slaves and now they think by treating whites like slaves, they will be forgiven. This entire case and the judicial system in durham makes me sick. My heart is with all the families and I hope Nifong gets disbared.

At 4:47 PM, January 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Duke alum and Triangle resident, I've followed this closely and have always wondered how the parents have watched their sons go through this. I also wonder how the fallout will impact Duke--such mixed emotions! I love the school, and I'm sure Broadhead has had moments wishing he were back at Yale, but with four kids heading to college in the next ten years, I don't see one of my kids at Duke now unless things change a lot and soon. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening.

Thanks for posting this.

At 12:28 PM, January 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this poem and I just wanted to share this with everyone here.

A Woman, A mother, A friend

A mother's commitment is extreme
her sacrifice sevre. Her overwhelming patience
is beyond anything to compare.

Always a smile on her face
yet no end to the pain she can endure; she'd do anything to ensure her child's happiness,to keep her baby safe and secure.

Whether in nursing health, mending wounds,laughing, talking, or crying.
Whether in facing fears or wiping tears a mother you can always rely on.

At 5:28 PM, January 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is amazing to read how many people suffered as a result of the lies of a troubled woman and a dishonest District Attorney. What did this world come to? Is this what we call justice?

My prayers are with all the lacrosse families and all those who suffered unjustly from this hoax. And, those who enabled and fostered this hoax should be ashamed of themselves for the rest of their lives. They represent the worst in our society.

Duke alumna

At 12:31 AM, January 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...


What a wonderful essay, what a touching story! My heart goes out for these families. They endured so much and for so long. Let us hope they are getting to the end of it. Thank you for writing this. It gave a small glimpse into what the human cost of this ugly episode has been. It has been way too costly. I pray that we will never see anything like this again.

Duke Friend

At 12:05 PM, January 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joan, wonderful essay. Thank you.

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At 3:29 PM, January 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the commments. This piece, in its entirety, should be mandatory reading for Nifong in his jail cell.

At 4:08 PM, January 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about mandatory reading for Brodhead and Steel? Someone should send them a link, so they don't miss it.

At 11:21 AM, January 30, 2007, Blogger Gary Packwood said...

Connecting The Dots

It is just so important to keep the case in the national news.

We are just now learning how to connect the dots between those groups on campus who were trying to move their careers forward and how they were using students to do so.

The race issue is a diversion to move the attention off the campus.

Keep the focus on ... Who will be the spider and who the fly on the campus of Duke University.

At 9:31 AM, February 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are a Duke student, alumni, faculty or staff, please sign the following petition to endorse a joint letter published by 19 Economic Professors asking for fairness in the lacrosse case: Concerned Duke Alumni

At 2:41 PM, March 17, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today, the FODU moderator informed me that since FODU began tracking, 40,000 people have read the "Profiles in Courage - The Other Duke Lacrosse Moms". These five courageous mothers were willing to share their personal stories with strangers, never dreaming there would be 40,000 of them.

Thanks to FODU and all the blogs for their links which helped to get this story out.

Of course, thank you to the courageous "other moms".

There are other heroes with stories to be told. Until the criminal charges are dropped, it is best that I hold off for now.

All the lacrosse families have suffered. Let us hope the charges against Collin, Reade and Dave are dismissed soon.

Joan Collins

At 7:22 PM, March 17, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you for all the profiles. They were most informative and I enjoyed reading each and every one of them. Thank you also to those who shared their stories with you.

Duke Mom

At 3:43 PM, June 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the postings have slowed down since the victory of last week. But I am still concerned.

I understand that the settlement made with Duke and the three players included an agreement that they would not pursue justice against the infamous 88 rogue professors. That troubles me. For Duke to be able to throw a protective shield over these slanderers and provacteurs is wrong. They MUST be held accountable for their incinderary words, and they must NOT be allowed to hide behind the immoral skirts of the cowardly Duke administration.

I have been moved to tears as I have learned of the wave upon wave of uprooted lives that were a consequence of this fiasco. We are RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR WORDS, AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES. If this lynch-mob of faculty ( and Duke nurses, for crying out loud where do they come off with this idiocy!) are let off the hook, the message to other faculties in other places of education is loud and clear.

The greatest need we have in our nation right now is for people to be held accountable for their words and actions. The Gang of 88 MUST be held to that standard. We have some of the greatestlegal minds in the nation who have worked on this case. PLEASE don't stop. Just because Reid, Collin, and David are free, does not mean that Duke is not, itself, still a hostage. Won't somebody please help us get our university back?

By the way, I would LOVE to meet Joan Collins. What a sensitive and gifted communicator she is. Thank you Joan for helping us bear these burdens with these folks, at least in our hearts and prayers.

Duke Graduate School Alumna, 1970.

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