He could have done that at any time, but he chose the Friday before a three-day Christmas weekend, when it is certain to get as little media coverage as possible. He didn’t face the media, didn’t answer calls, didn’t say so much as, “Oops.” He did, however, put a sign on his door requesting, “No media, please!”
Great. A public official, paid by the taxpayers and elected by the citizenry, refuses to discuss a major decision on one of the most controversial and divisive cases we’ve seen since Kobe Bryant. I can’t wait to read that he’s retired to take a job at a college lecturing on legal ethics.
Before the statement was made by Nifong’s office, the news broke on WRAL, a local television station, which reported: “Nifong's investigator interviewed the woman Thursday, and she told the investigator that she couldn't testify ‘with certainty’ that she was raped.”
The players had their party with “exotic” entertainment back in April. Nifong indicted three players for rape, one of the most sickening and vile of all crimes. He never had a DNA match, never had a reliable visual match, and, we learned a couple of months ago, never even interviewed the woman who made the charges. Finally, on Dec. 21, WRAL tells us, an investigator actually interviewed her and learned that she couldn’t testify that she was raped; she wasn’t sure. Where did this guy learn his craft, from Donald Rumsfeld?
Nifong is nothing if not thick-headed. The witness, whose name remains out of the public domain in the major news media — with the exception of Fox News, which “inadvertently” identified her on the Internet recently — has pretty much exhausted whatever credibility she may have had. But still Nifong is clinging to sexual assault and kidnapping charges he says he will pursue against the three young men whose lives he’s already scarred forever.
They’ll survive because their families have money, although, after eight months of fees for top lawyers, not nearly as much as they used to have. Poor people who may be tempted to see this as an example of the rich buying justice would be better off considering how an unethical person like Nifong could put them in jail because they don’t have the money to defend themselves. If it’s an example of anything, it’s of how vulnerable we all are to a man on a mission to save his own butt through the expediency of burning someone else’s.
If it weren’t so tragic — a word I don’t use often, but one that fits here because of the senseless wrong that has been done for the most selfish and venal of reasons — it would be painfully funny, a parody of a prosecutor making a parody of justice.
But it’s not funny. Justice is supposed to be blind, not stupid and self-serving. Men of honor admit their mistakes; they don’t hang signs on their doors telling the people who pay their salaries not to bother them.
I’ll let the wheels of justice — there’s a fine irony for you — grind on. There are still serious charges against the three. But I’ll be shocked if the case ever goes to trial. So, too, I believe, would be Nifong.
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