Last week, Crystal Mangum, the woman who falsely accused three Duke lacrosse players of raping her, was found guilty of stabbing and murdering her boyfriend. The 34-year-old woman was sentenced to 14 to 18 years in prison.
It was back in 2006 that this phony falsely accused three lacrosse players of gang-raping her at at a team party where she was hired as a stripper. The chaos and carnage that followed was unprecedented:
- The 3 Duke players were arrested and then later declared innocent by North Carolina’s attorney general after Mangum’s story fell apart and her mental stability was called into question;
- The prosecuting attorney was removed from the case by the Attorney General’s Office and later disbarred and jailed as a result of his misconduct in the case—he has since been sued and filed personal bankruptcy;
- Duke’s head lacrosse coach was forced to resign, and sued and settled with Duke—not once but twice;
- The lacrosse team’s entire season was canceled because of the incident;
- The 3 wrongfully accused lacrosse team members settled with Duke University, and sued the government officials responsible for their wrongful arrest and prosecution; and
- 38 of the lacrosse players and their families sued Duke University in federal court for damages they allegedly suffered as a result of the incident.
Mangum’s conviction and jail sentence provides appropriate closure—not only as punishment for a horrific stabbing crime, but also for her role in what was a complete embarrassment and sham of a prosecution and school disciplinary process against these students.
The story highlights a common problem that Connecticut prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys and school officials tackle often—credibility and proof issues in sexual assault and rape cases.
Can Rape Cases Be Prosecuted Without Physical Evidence?
In the Duke Lacrosse case, the prosecution mishandled certain DNA evidence that was exculpatory and helpful to the defense. But in many Connecticut rape cases, there is not DNA, scientific or forensic evidence available. Sometimes it just comes down to the traditional “he said” versus “she said”.
Make no mistake—Connecticut sexual assault and rape cases can be prosecuted based primarily on the statements of an accuser. If law enforcement finds an accuser’s story to be credible, an arrest warrant which summarizes the accuser’s sworn statements, coupled with other facts and circumstances of a case, can be submitted to a judge as part of an arrest warrant application. If a judge finds probable cause, then you could be arrested without any scientific proof of a sexual assault.
I have seen dozens of rape investigations by local police where an alleged female victim wrongfully accuses a boyfriend, husband, parent, partygoer, fraternity member, doctor, teacher or someone else in their life. The motivations could be many: revenge, mental illness, depression, money, jealousy, attention, etc. Connecticut sexual assault detectives are trained in investigating rape allegations and they try their hardest to get it right, but sometimes an accuser (as in the Duke lacrosse case) can make a convincing case and fool police, prosecutors and an entire university.
That’s why if you are subject to allegations of rape or sexual assault under C.G.S. §§ 53a-71, 53a-72a, 53a-72b, or 53a-73a, and the police want to interview you, it is critical that you consult with a top Connecticut sexual assault or rape attorney or lawyer in Stamford, Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien, Westport, Wilton or Norwalk before giving any information with law enforcement. Everything you say can and will be used against you, so be very careful when speaking with Connecticut police.
Can a college, university or high school expel a student based on mere allegations of sexual assault?
Soon after the accusations and arrests went public, the Duke players were suspended and expelled from the University. Many wondered how this could happen, especially when state and federal law provides each accused with a presumption of innocence? The reality is that private high schools, colleges, and universities, as well as many publicly funded universities, are not obligated to follow this constitutional presumption of innocence. Each educational institution has their own set of rules and investigatory and disciplinary procedures, which are often patently unfair and heavy-handed. These procedures often do not give an accused ample time and opportunity to contact a top school expulsion and discipline attorney, and families are frequently rushed through a disciplinary process with little assistance or guidance. Thus, if you are a resident or student in Connecticut or New York, and you or your family members find yourself up against a school disciplinary process, you should consult a top Connecticut school or college expulsion and discipline attorney right away.
Suing Colleges & Universities for Wrongful Expulsion and Discipline
The Connecticut school discipline and school expulsion lawyers at Mark Sherman Law have flown around the country to defend Connecticut residents in wrongful school discipline cases. Our clients and their families feel strongly that their child should have an advocate during an investigation. We aggressively fight for student rights in the Connecticut expulsion and discipline cases and are not afraid to file lawsuits against these universities if necessary. Click here for more information about our school discipline and expulsion practice.
Contact Us Today
So if you have been accused of sexual assault or rape in Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Wilton, Westport, Fairfield, Darien, Norwalk, or elsewhere in Connecticut, contact a Connecticut sexual assault lawyer at Mark Sherman Law today. Likewise, if the rape or abuse allegations have triggered suspension, expulsion or discipline proceedings at your school, college or university, then we can assist you in advocating and fighting for your rights. Don’t let any rush to judgment affect you or your child’s rights as they did to the innocent students at Duke. Call us today.