Posted on April 23, 2009

The False Accuser Speaks

K.C. Johnson, Durham-in-Wonderland, April 22. 2009

[Update, 11.59am: A few other attendees have posted their notes on the event in the comments section, including items from the Q&A with Ed Clark; my thanks to all. In addition, the Daily Tar Heel story on the event says that Mangum “was especially bothered by a news segment showing her dancing at a bar, which she said the media falsely stated was two days* after the alleged rape.” I can’t say that I read everything published about the case, but I did read an awful lot–and I cannot recall a single article that claimed the video of Mangum dancing at the strip club “was two days after the alleged rape.” (The video took place on March 25, 2006, at about the same time as the ‘candelight vigil’ protest.) But, as we know, Ms. Mangum has serious psychological problems, and a tendency to invent things.

Additionally, DTH reports that “due to an appointment, Mangum had to leave before the question and answer session of the event.” I will leave it to others to determine what type of “appointment” Ms. Mangum would need to reach at 7.30 in the evening wearing a pink ball cap, an Old Navy hoodie and jeans.]

At the Liestoppers forum, Walt-in-Durham has a detailed rundown of Crystal Mangum’s appearance tonight at UNC. As I have noted previously, it is mindboggling that an academic institution would invite someone who the state AG had, with copious evidence, deemed a false accuser and not allow her to be questioned on the myriad contradictions in her story. It is all the more mindboggling that the only reason for this refusal to allow questions was to prevent the false accuser from saying something that could open her to a lawsuit.

I should note, in addition, that Mangum’s p.r. representative had similarly informed me of the media difficulties that the false accuser had in promoting her book. As I told him at the time, it’s my sense that most media organizations will not put on the air someone whose assertions they know to be false, if only to avoid massive legal liability.

Below is Walt’s rundown:

About 80 folks showed up to see and hear Crystal Gail Mangum talk, about being a victim in both the courts and media. The crowd was courteous and respectful, giving Crystal Gail Mangum a polite welcoming applause even though she showed twenty minutes late. The presentation was a bit of a bait and switch as the sponsoring sorority wanted to discuss other cases that similarly involved mass media reporting of blacks, not just Crystal’s hoax. Still, she spoke in a question and answer format that was clearly rehearsed with Ed Clark, her publisher.

Clark lead off the show with a six minute video apparently shot in the spring of 2008 to promote Crystal’s memoir. The video claimed she had been raped and was a victim of media bias and sensationalism. In her video montage she showed pictures of Dr. King and a lynching. I suppose she was trying to equate herself with the civil rights struggle. During the video, two of her drivers were quoted as denying that she was a prostitute. One said he only drove her around five times.

Ed Clark wore his shirttail out and generally looked like he was about ready to wash the car. Crystal was wearing a pink ball cap, an Old Navy hoodie and jeans. She looked pleasant enough, though certainly not well dressed.

Ed began the live portion of the show with a short monologue explaining who he was and making the claim that he now handled “crisis public relations for government agencies.” He left without taking questions, so he never answered my question of which government agency he handled PR for. As a matter of fact, I went prepared with 11 pre-drafted questions for Crystal. None of them pertained directly to the lacrosse hoax as the sorority asked. She too left without taking questions, even though she had said she would answer questions.

After the Ed Clark monologue, he introduced Crystal. But, he immediately launched into a vigorous narrative, again rehearsed, about how the CBS show 60 Minutes would not pay for Crystal’s interview and he claimed to have a copy of an email from CBS saying that one of the families had total access to 60 Minutes and they would bury Mike Nifong. He continued on that HBO had been in contact with him about interviewing Crystal and doing a promotion for the book. He then complained that HBO had a line producer call to kill the project. They pushed back the publication date while they hunted for another media outlet for the launch. Then he claimed that the NBC Today Show sent a vice president, and a camera crew to interview Crystal. The NBC crew allegedly followed her around North Carolina Central’s campus, talked to her Pastor, family and friends. She gave them a four hour interview where they could and did ask any questions. Clark never disclosed the questions. According to Clark, the “contract” between NBC and Crystal would have her on the Today Show, Dateline, MSNBC and CNBC all on the day the book launched. Again a “line producer,” not the VP or producer they had met, called to tell them the promotion was off and the book launched without a major network availability. After Clark’s recitation of his difficulties launching the book, Crystal Gail Mangum spoke.

She opened immediately by stating unequivocally that she was raped. She did not name names though. She did mention Duke Lacrosse in the same general time frame, but it seemed like they were being careful not to make too close a linkage between the two. She also claimed that she had never been heard. She claimed that on the night she was “raped” she was not on medications. She claimed that the defense team had her medical records and was taking a whole year’s worth of medications and claimed that she was on them the night of the “rape”. Crystal then described some symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder that she suffered, and closed with a pitch for the book.

Occasionally Ed Clark would prompt Crystal with some questions in what was a well rehearsed presentation. Crystal continued talking about how she felt: dirty, embarrassed, ashamed, not wanting anyone to know, but afraid they all did know she had been raped. She admitted that early in the investigation, she had a lawyer or lawyers advising her, but they were expensive, $150/hour. She also wanted to get psychological treatment, but was afraid to as the defense had access to her medical records. She said she was not sure whom to trust, the Durham Police Department, the District Attorney? She said she felt like she was being made the victim again for something that was not her fault. She said the DPD and the DA let her down.

Then she got to the part of the show where she blamed the media. She said the media, 60 Minutes especially, put on Kim Roberts without “checking their resources.” Ed Clark jumped in to tell how Variety was reporting that HBO had optioned the stories of the various lacrosse books and even some blogs(?!–ed.). He wanted to option Crystal’s story to HBO. They refused to buy and told him they were coming to Durham and she could cooperate with their movie or not, but she wouldn’t be paid. Later though HBO, through a line producer, told Clark that they wouldn’t even show the footage and interviews they did in Durham.

Crystal then talked about an interview with Soledad O’Brien of CNN. She said she gave Ms. O’Brien four hours of unrestricted access and answered all her questions. Again, she let a CNN crew follow her around and tape whatever they wanted. She had only nice things to say about O’Brien and her producer and the CNN crew. But again, a “line producer” called to tell her that CNN would not air the interview.

Finally, Ed Clark claimed that the website Daily Beast wanted to feature Crystal Mangum on their launch. That too fell through after a long interview with the site’s host. In case you were wondering, a “line producer” also called to tell Clark and Mangum that the site was launching with another story.

Clark then said the Crystal had the flu and apologized for Crystal leaving early. He never said why she wouldn’t take questions from the audience. The both left through a side door and the sorority sisters moved on to another case. About half the audience left as soon as Crystal Gail Mangum and Ed Clark slipped out the side door.

*–DTH reported “two hours,” but two DIW readers at the event recalled that Mangum said “two days.”

In what is nothing short of an extraordinary decision, UNC’s Sonja Haynes Stone Center has chosen to host serial fabricator Crystal Mangum at the University of North Carolina tonight, at 6.30pm, in a gathering devoted to “social injustice” and “the harsh realities of minority treatment both in the justice system and the media.” The sponsoring organization is here.

(If any DIW readers in the Triangle attend this event, please send me a summary and I will post it tomorrow.)

In an equally extraordinary development, the Daily Tar Heel reports that “following Mangum’s speech will be a question-and-answer session with the audience. Questions will be submitted beforehand to organizers to prevent questions related to the Duke lacrosse team.”

Questions that should be asked:

How much money did Ms. Magnum receive from the state of North Carolina victims’ assistance fund?

Will Ms. Mangum release–as her defender, Wendy Murphy, has essentially demanded–her 1000-page psychological case file?

How many meetings and phone calls with Mike Nifong did Ms. Mangum have, and how often did they discuss the case in these phone calls?

Given that her “book” still claims that an attack occurred, how does Ms. Magnum explain away the fact that not only does no evidence exist to corroborate her myriad, mutually contradictory tales, but that overwhelming exculpatory evidence exists to prove the innocence of the accused? Does Ms. Mangum still believe that Duke doctored the party photos, as she told state prosecutors? Does she believe that Wachovia doctored the ATM videotape of Reade Seligmann? Does she believe, as Nifong’s defenders have claimed, that other witnesses in the case were bribed to exonerate the lacrosse players? How does she interpret the DNA evidence finding no traces of any of the players but matches to multiple unidentified men?

Given that the AG stated Ms. Mangum did not face prosecution for filing a false police report in part because of a fear of community reaction, does she believe that a racial disparity exists regarding the treatment of false accusers by the justice system?

Does Ms. Mangum feel any sense of regret at having falsely led on the people and groups–from Nifong to the Group of 88–who sought to exploit her case for their own ends?

And, perhaps most important, will Ms. Mangum issue a public apology to the three people she falsely accused?