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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Duke still must answer for its role
By Times Editorial
Published June 20, 2007
Lawsuits are an inevitable next step in the wreckage left by rogue prosecutor Mike Nifong, and maybe Duke University is wise to get ahead of them. But the two settlements it already has reached, with the former lacrosse coach and the three players, forsake the university's own pledge of transparency.
Little more than a year ago, after being thrust into the national spotlight when Nifong accused three white lacrosse players of raping a young black woman, Duke president Richard Brodhead promised a full accounting. "As painful as these times are, " he wrote alumni, "the test of a school is not preventing bad things from ever happening, but in addressing them in an honest and forthright way."
More recently, he spoke of the "healthy Duke tradition of being willing to face up to hard questions in candid ways."
Why, then, hide the financial settlements? The first, with fired coach Mike Pressler, was kept secret until a newspaper found out earlier this month. The second, with players David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, was announced Monday. In neither case, however, has the university revealed what it paid.
The villain here is not Duke. It is an immoral prosecutor who pushed a case for political purposes and has lost his job, his law license and, if justice prevails, will lose even more.
It is also clear that the three young men and their families, whose lives were torn asunder, deserve to be made whole again. That's what the civil courts presumably will try to do.
The question at Duke goes more to how a distinguished educational institution deals with its own exposure. There are many good reasons to settle this dispute out of court, but the magnitude is relevant and speaks to how the university views its own culpability.
Did Duke not have a good-faith basis for firing the coach or suspending the students? Did it make serious mistakes of its own?
The money would shed light on those questions, but now the university has stopped talking. It's time for Duke to come clean.