This week’s 30 for 30 reaction piece focuses on Fantastic Lies, the documentary about the Duke Lacrosse Rape case. I have been waiting to do this piece since I started this series and to be honest this documentary gave rise to this series.
For those that might not have been paying attention back in 2004 or haven’t watch the documentary the following recap might contain some spoilers so proceed with caution.
In 2004 the Duke Lacrosse team was accused of raping an exotic dancer they had hired for a party they were having. The allegations were the perfect storm because of the race relations between Duke University and the city of Durham, the lacrosse team were seen as the privileged and the girl was seen as a poorer person. The city was ready made for the controversy of the case. 3 players were ultimately indicted in the case and after a long and crazy run were found completely innocent of all charges. (Not the most in-depth recap, but that’s because I want you to go watch the film).
Before I get into my reactions let me just say this: Rape or Sexual Assault is never okay.
So my biggest problem with this whole situation (and many situations just like this) is that this case played out in the media well before the boys ever appeared in court. The media viewed the case through their own spectrum and had no objectivity. They all wanted to own the story and run with it to satisfy their readers’ curiosity without making sure what they were reporting was accurate. They had painted these boys as guilty and set off a firestorm on campus that forced these boys to only have each other.
The DA actually fanned the flames in the media and made it worse. I’m 95% sure that he saw this case as a way to help his election campaign, since he was only the interim DA. He should’ve been focused on actually finding the truth of the case instead of parading around claiming he was going to essentially take these boys to the fire and make them pay for their mistakes.
What I loved most about this documentary was the boys’ defense team. The lead attorney gave an inspiring pep talk before one of the lawyers questioned the DNA expert. It was a fitting touch to this documentary because what sports movie isn’t complete without the inspiring pep talk when the team is going into the 4th quarter down by 7 on the 4-1.
Even though the charges were dropped there is no doubt that the lives of every single player on that team were forever changed.
Tony McDevitt, one of the players on the team, summarized the documentary in the best way possible by saying that the lasting legacy of this case is that false accusations only hurt the woman who truly are raped.
Hopefully one day the culture of rape changes and women feel comfortable to come forward and get the help they need, but ultimately my hope is that there comes a time when rape ceases to exist, but I’ve always been an eternal optimist.