Two Short Takes; Crystal Mangum and Maryanne Godboldo

The campus of Duke University is calm now.  It’s mid-April and final exams are approaching.  Semester papers are coming due and anyway, the men’s basketball team, a perennial powerhouse, lost in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament this year, so that distraction is gone.

The faculty must be busy too, since we’re not hearing much from them.  The Group of 88 must have disbanded at some point, and in any event, there are no radical students to egg them on, no district attorney to wave fabricated charges in their faces like a red cape before a bull.

But what, after all is there to get excited about?  Merely this (WRAL, 4/13/11).

Yes, Crystal Gayle Mangum is in jail again and, if my intuition is correct, there to stay – maybe for life. 

Mangum of course is the woman who infamously charged three Duke students with rape one night five years ago.  Her charges, never believable, were swallowed hook line and sinker by police, the District Attorney’s office and hundreds, perhaps thousands of faculty and students who turned as one on the three innocent young men.

The university’s administration at the time added cowardice to hypocrisy by failing to raise such basic issues as the presumption of innocence.  That fell to the three young men, their coach, their teammates and the women’s Lacrosse team who never wavered in their belief that the three were innocent.

This was all the more remarkable for the fact that young men’s behavior from the outset demonstrated innocence.  They volunteered to take DNA tests, opened the fraternity house to police investigation and took and passed polygraph tests.  All that produced no evidence of guilt.

But as police investigated, evidence of innocence piled up and up.  One of the accused produced credit card and building entrance card evidence that he in fact was elsewhere at the time of the alleged assault.  Countless other facts pointed directly at actual innocence.

None of that deflected for an instant the twin crusades of Michael Nifong, District Attorney who was running for election and the Group of 88 Duke professors who at times seemed to be running for village idiot.  In their cossetted little world, the three young men were presumptively privileged and, having been charged with rape by a women, must have been guilty.  Such is the “logic” of higher education these days.

So compelling to them was their own narrative of privilege and oppression that they forgot entirely to consult facts and common sense.  Even a cursory glance at either would have given even the most anti-male, anti-jock person pause.

And then there was the complainant herself, Ms. Mangum.  Facts about her piled up as well, like the false claim ten years before that she had been raped by three men that even her own father said was made up.  Her multiple run-ins with the law, her actual job as stripper (some said prostitute) and her tendency to abuse drugs and alcohol would have tipped off less excitable folks than the Group of 88.

But no, by then they were in full cry and ill-prepared when their ideologically constructed worldview came crashing down around them. 

It took a full year and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees for the State of North Carolina to officially find the three not merely not guilty, but innocent and to drop all charges against them.  The coup de grace to the whole sorry affair came when Michael Nifong was disbarred for his disgraceful behavior including withholding exculpatory evidence – the DNA tests that proved innocence.

That was five years ago and during the ensuing years, Crystal Gayle Mangum has rarely been out of the news.  She received no punishment for falsely accusing the young men or wasting state and county resources.  Last year I reported on her assault of her boyfriend and setting fire to his clothing.  She got off with barely a tap on the wrist.

And that’s too bad because, if the Durham police are right, she’s now committed murder, stabbing her boyfriend, Reginald Daye, to death with a kitchen knife to the chest.  If she’s convicted, my guess is that the local police and prosecutors will finally have had their fill of her and put her away for life. 

That of course will come too late to save Reginald Daye, but why would a Duke faculty member notice a minor detail like that?  Why lift your bespectacled face out of your books to notice when a mere man is actually killed as opposed to the false claims of rape by a woman?  Why heed an actual fact, particularly one that holds the power to disturb your carefully-constructed universe.

No, leave it to the neighbor who called 911 as Daye lay bleeding to death to get right what some of the supposedly best minds in the country couldn’t.

When asked for a description of the girlfriend, the caller said, “It’s Crystal Mangum. THE Crystal Mangum.”

He then added, “I told him she was trouble from the beginning.”

That simple truth is one that many people could have recognized years ago.  If they had, much embarrassment and much torment would have been avoided.

Daye died, perhaps ironically, at Duke University Hospital.  The silence on campus as he did was deafening.

Meanwhile, remember Maryanne Godboldo, the Detroit single mother who made the mistake of using her own judgment about whether to give a certain psychotropic drug to her 13-year-old daughter?  That drove the local CPS to get an ex parte court order to turn over the girl.

Godboldo refused, the police were called, an altercation ensued and the girl was taken by CPS to a psychiatric facility where, two weeks later she was reported to be doing well having still not received the medication that was the cause of her being taken in the first place.

I opined at the time that that, plus CPS’s refusal to hand the girl over to her father, strongly indicated that the whole thing looked less like concern for the girl and more like rage on the part of the state at being thwarted in the exercise of its power by the likes of a mere parent.

Well, now this articletells us that it wasn’t just the police that showed up at Godboldo’s door, it was the SWAT team complete with a tank for what purpose I can only guess (Daily Mail, 4/15/11).  Just picture it, a single mother inside her apartment with her young daughter who’s having some mental/emotional difficulties, while outside there are a multitude of armed SWAT team members and a tank.

You can always gauge how much you’ve affronted the state by the level of its response to the affront.  Given that, I’d say they perceive Godboldo’s action as a serious threat.

And maybe that tells us something important about how the state perceives its interest in intervening in family life and particularly in parenting decisions. 

So you think you know what’s best for your child, you think you have autonomy in the matter, you think those Supreme Court cases saying the state can’t interfere in the parenting decisions of a fit parent actually mean something.  Well think again.

And that knock on your door?  It’s not UPS.

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