A Review by David in TN
William D. Cohan has written The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities.
Many years ago, I read a review that described a book as something that could have been written as a magazine article, but was made into a book with a lot of padding. Cohan's work has over 600 pages with plenty of "padding." Oddly enough, Cohan has no end notes or bibliography.
In March 2006, a black stripper named Crystal Mangum accused three Duke Lacrosse players of beating and gang raping her. Recently appointed Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong seized on the accusation, and the TV networks eagerly gave Nifong enormous publicity.
Nifong needed it to win election as Durham County DA in his own right. He was trailing badly in the polls, had no name recognition, and his fundraising had dried up. The electorate was nearly half black. The scenario was right out of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities.
A district attorney seizes on The Great White Defendant, in order to win an election. In fact, events would prove that no rape had occurred.See Nicholas Stix' Absolutely Definitive Account Of The Incredible Disappearing Duke Rape Hoax for details.
Another motive for Nifong was a larger pension if he could make 30 years at the DA's office. Ironically, Nifong is now living comfortably on the pension he did receive, according to William Cohan.
Cohan begins the book with 11 pages on Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K turns downs millions of dollars to coach the Los Angeles Lakers. The Duke basketball coach stayed out of the case, but Cohan mentions him often in the book.
Cohan's book claims there should have been a trial, and in interviews has said his book is the trial that never happened. The author depicts Nifong as a courageous and honorable prosecutor fighting heroically against tricky defense lawyers defending arrogant, loutish lacrosse players with wealthy parents and political influence.
Cohan interviewed both Crystal Mangum and Mike Nifong. He accepts their stories uncritically. Nifong was convicted of lying to a judge and concealing evidence. Mangum is in prison for murdering her boyfriend.
Cohan is not bothered by the fact that there was no DNA from any of the players on Mangum. How did they beat, rape, and sodomize her and leave no DNA? Cohan takes Mangum's latest story (a broomstick was shoved into her, about the 12th version) at face value. He quotes uncritically Nifong's attacks on the defense lawyers, the North Carolina attorney general, and the falsely accused throughout the book.
Cohan dwells on Mangum's fake fingernail found in the bathroom waste basket with DNA that could not be excluded from belonging to Dave Evans, one of the accused. Even if it did belong to Evans, he lived in the house and used the bathroom, making a transfer unsurprising.
Regarding Nifong's conviction and disbarment, Cohan gives Nifong's own reason. The defense lawyers used their political influence on North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and the North Carolina Bar disciplinary panel that disbarred Nifong after a five-day trial.
Nifong calls it a "kangaroo court." Cohan describes it as a "sacrificial slaughter."
Roy Cooper "sold his soul to the devil," by declaring the players "innocent," said Nifong.
Nifong had violated legal ethics by calling the accused "hooligans," hiding exculpatory DNA evidence from the defense, and lying to a judge about the evidence.
Nifong declared the supposed rape "racially motivated."
Throughout the book, Cohan quotes without comment seemingly every attack on the accused by the media and leftist Duke faculty.
Nifong (and Cohan) believe the accusation alone is enough for a trial, along with one inexperienced, fanatically feminist nurse's testimony.
The lengthy tome has page after page of interviews with Nifong and Mangum, columns written in 2006 attacking the accused, hand-wringing about underaged drinking, and too much attention to sports.
Cohan claims without proof that Duke paid out $60 million with the idea of buying silence. Cohan depicts himself as an intrepid investigator uncovering what Duke, the defense lawyers, and the accused lacrosse players don't want the public to know.
In fact, the Duke president and other top administrators joined the rush to judgment, along with many Duke professors.
In summary, William Cohan has rewritten the story the way he thinks it should be, not the way it was.