PR - Crisis and Management

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Duke Lacrosse Scandal

"The victim stated she tried to leave and the three males (Adam, Bret, and Matt) forcefully held her legs and arms and sexually assaulted her anally, vaginally and orally. The victim states she was hit, kicked and strangled during the assault and she attempted to defend herself, but was overpowered. The victim reported she was sexually assaulted for an approximate 30 minute time period by the three males. " This is the statement from police in Durham, North Carolina, where the Duke Lacrosse program is in the midst of a catastrophic controversy.



The allegation is that three white players from Duke's lacrosse team raped a black student from North Carolina Central University. The student, an exotic dancer, was hired to work at a party in an off-campus home, where the alleged rape occurred. So far, no one has been officially charged with a crime. Investigators are waiting on DNA tests performed on 46 of the 47 players.

Duke had the No. 2 lacrosse team in the country and was expected to win the national title this year. So far, members of the team have remained silent in solidarity, but officials vow to break the stalemate. It is not surprising that team is remaining so silent; the party was hosted in a house rented to the team's three captains.

This scandal will catapult Duke lacrosse into the nationalconsciousnesss negatively for a long time. This story is front page news: rape and gender, race, class, timing, and the team's foolhardy adherence to a code of silence are issues that make this crisis one of such great magnitude. The incident has sparked a series of protests on campus this week. Many of the protesters have said the case is the product of a culture of power and privilege at Duke that protects the wealthy and well-placed, especially athletes, at the expense of others.

Duke University staff are trying to keep positive and spin the negative aspects of the scandal. Duke vice president of communications John Burness says the school is trying to use the incident as a "teachable moment." (USAToday.com) "There are many topics to consider," he says. "The Fifth Amendment, race, privilege and the role athletics plays." After suspending the team from playing, Duke President ,Richard Brodhead said, "In this painful period of uncertainty, it is clear to me, as it was to the players, that it would be inappropriate to resume the normal schedule of play." (SI.Com) Brodhead met with students Wednesday morning to discuss the incident in a forum closed to reporters.

USAToday.com

SI.com

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