North Carolina TV station WRAL offers a bizarre coda to the strange and polarizing case of the allegations of rape involving the Duke lacrosse team. Three years ago, Crystal Mangum started a national debate on race and justice when she accused the team’s players of raping her at a party, only to have the entire case fall apart and the prosecutor accused of misconduct. Last night, Durham police arrested Mangum for attempted murder, arson, and identity theft after responding to a domestic disturbance call:
Durham police arrested Duke lacrosse accuser Crystal Gale Mangum, 33, late Wednesday after she allegedly assaulted her boyfriend, set his clothes on fire in a bathtub and threatened to stab him.
Authorities charged her with attempted first-degree murder, five counts of arson, assault and battery, communicating threats, three counts of misdemeanor child abuse, injury to personal property, identity theft and resisting a public officer. …
Mangum is the author of the memoir “Last Dance for Grace.” She was a student at North Carolina Central University in 2006 and also worked as an exotic dancer when she performed at the now infamous Duke lacrosse party.
It was there, she claimed, that three white members of the team trapped her inside a bathroom and raped and sexually assaulted her.
According to the WRAL report, Mangum committed the arson while three children were in the house. She gave a fake name (hence the identity theft charge) and resisted arrest. She will appear this morning for her arraignment, where it will be seen if she make can make bail.
If there’s one lesson to learn from this, it’s not to jump to conclusions. Just because the police have filed these charges doesn’t mean they’ll stick. Attempted murder has to involve more than a threat to stab someone (although technically that qualifies as assault, which only requires a realistic threat of violence). Mangum gets to have her day in court, if it goes that far.
Too bad some of Mangum’s supporters, including dozens of instructors at Duke, didn’t keep that in mind the last time.