Avenger

From 2006, during the Duke-Lacrosse rape trial


Dead to rights,” Nancy Grace promised her audience. “Dead. To. Rights. People!”

It was the eve of the great reveal. The next day the lab report would come in, a report she and her audience had been waiting for. Forensic DNA matches that would nail a group of smug, good-looking college jocks in the gang rape of a lone women.

The facts, however, were slippery. Even Nancy had to admit that, with a squinty, don’t-bullshit-me eyebrow raise.

In the early hours of March 14, 2006, a young black woman refused to leave the car of her companion, an Asian woman. Police were called. The woman put up a fight. She seemed drugged. The police forcibly removed her and brought her to a substance- abuse mental-health facility where she was committed against her will. During the intake, she said she had just been gang raped by the Duke University lacrosse team.

She and her friend had been hired as strippers for a party for the team, but everything went wrong the moment they arrived. The boys had asked for white girls. The boys were drunk and abusive. The boys tauted the women to perform with sex toys, then produced a broomstick: “Use this.”

“Why, is your dick too small,” the black woman snapped back. She was frightened by their insistence. She had never been a stripper before. This was her first job. The boys wouldn’t let the women leave. Then some boys took her into the bathroom, held her down and painfully raped her.

“Open. And. Shut.” declared Grace at the end of her show. And it wasn’t just her audience that agreed. Duke University had already suspended the remainder of the lacrosse season; the coach was forced to resign. Photos of lacrosse players were posted around campus, exhorting them to come forward with information. Pots and pans were banged outside of the campus house where the party had been held. And in a quirkly side note, sales of lacrosse t-shirts at the Campus Store tripled.

The next day the report came in. None. Nada. No DNA matches whatsoever.

Nancy Grace was flummoxed. Her trademark was certainty, righteous certainty, raging certainty, a hot under the collar Southern preacher certainty. And forensic science had tripped her up again. No DNA matches whatsoever! Nancy Grace hadn’t been this cheesed off since Michael Jackson beat the rap the previous year for child molestation.