KC Johnson, delving into microfiche of old editions of The Herald-Sun, found a gang-rape case in 1989 with some similarities to the Duke lacrosse rape case charges. What’s not similar, though, is the way it was handled: professionally in 1989, incompetently and opportunistically in 2006. It’s interesting to note that all the suspects in 1989 were black or Hispanic, giving the lie to the notion that minorities suffer greater indignities on the part of the criminal-justice system in Durham. I think the Duke lacrosse case shows it’s the other way around:

Even more startlingly—at least after what we’ve all witnessed over the past eight months—Thaxton [the lead investigator] actually decided to investigate whether the accuser’s story was credible, rather than maintaining that only a jury could decide the issue. He discovered that the accuser’s report to police contained what the prosecutor described as “numerous demonstrably false statements.” Thaxton also uncovered “highly embarrassing” information about falsifications in the woman’s allegations. Therefore, the officer concluded that the “charges appear to be without substance.”

The prosecutor agreed. On May 25, 1989, all charges against the four men were dropped.