“Too little, too late” is how John in Carolina characterizes Duke President Richard Brodhead’s latest statement on the lacrosse rape allegations. I was out Christmas shopping all day yesterday so failed to post on the dismissal of the rape charges. When I heard Brodhead’s statement on my car radio, my first response to my wife was also, “Too little, too late.”

There are several people who, had their responses been different back in March, might have brought some sanity to the reaction to the rape charges. One of those is Brodheard. Others are the Duke 88, the pot bangers in Trinity Park, the candlelight vigil attendees, the reporters and editorial writers at The Herald-Sun and The News & Observer, and N&O columnists Ruth Sheehan and Barry Saunders, who demagogued and sensationalized the race, class and gender aspects of this case at the beginning. Others have absolved The N&O and others for coming around to a responsible position, but I can’t do that, just as I can’t forgive Brodhead now that he has belatedly said something he should have said in March when it might have prevented the lynch-mob mentality that engulfed Durham. The damage their irresponsibility did to Duke, the lacrosse program, the players, and, yes, my town of Durham, is incalculable and possibly irreparable. These people are as guilty as Mike Nifong, in my view, and they shouldn’t be forgiven.

Now we learn that Duke is embarked on a PR campaign ostensibly to limit the damage done by the rape allegations. This is undoubtedly a strategy devised by Duke’s Minister of Information John Burness. After all, that’s his job, even if his client is hopelessly beyond help. But the reason Duke’s rep has taken a hit is not because of some rowdy lacrosse players but the execrable reaction of Duke’s president, the university administration, and its faculty to the news. From the start the players were given no benefit of the doubt. Neither was lacrosse coach Mike Pressler. The rats are now deserting the sinking pro-accuser ship. I know it’s Christmas and a time for forgiveness, but I, for one, am not willing to throw them a lifeline. Let them sink along with the DA.