In the darkness the trees are full of starlight (henwy) wrote,
In the darkness the trees are full of starlight

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The accuser and the accused

There's been some revisionist history out there when it comes to the Duke Lacrosse scandal. Many people now claim that the accuser never had any chance of being believed by the public at large. They put this down to racism and sexism and god only knows what other sort of -isms they can drag out of the closet. In fact, if you see the raging against the so-called 'angry white men' syndrome, many seem to now believe that from the minute the accuser spoke, there were individuals out there ready to all but lynch her for the crime of daring to accuse young white men of such a crime.

This of course has almost nothing to do with reality. When the story first broke, public opinion was strongly with the accuser and the overwhelming number of people who stated an opinion believed that a crime had occurred. It's inconvienant for some people to recall that now, and so they rewrite history in a way where she was never believed and never given the benefit of the doubt. These individuals also convienantly forget Nifong's early interviews with the press and his statements of being certain of guilt.

There's a piece of evidence however that tells us what people really did believe when it came to the story of the accuser vs the accused in those early days. Before the DNA tests came back, a betting site called Wager Web offered people the ability to place a wager on the outcome of the results, whether they would come back positive and how many individuals would be matched. Here is how the betting went:

More than 80 percent of our customers who bet on the outcome said these players were guilty before the results were released," says Dave Johnson, CEO of In the online gaming world, we find that a majority of the time, trends in wagering reflect actual outcomes of high profile court cases, hot new reality TV shows or well publicized scandals.

Out of the hundreds who placed bets in the few days the lines were posted, only 11 of our bettors picked the outcome correctly. Those who did so earned their payout of even money.

That seems to give a good snapshot of whether people believed the accuser's story at the start, ecpsecially given that these people were willing to actually place money on their belief. If it seems that public opinion has started to turn, it is only because of a shift in the evidence and not some sort of pervasive racism that was present all along. That some may try to capitalize on the changes in the case is a given, but it seems equally clear that a large majority of americans believed the accuser's story in the early days of the investigation.
Tags: crime/law, duke lacrosse case

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