All week long, she had been worrying the case from every angle. There was the race aspect: “I understand they specifically asked for a black stripper!” she said, eyes narrowing with the sort of flinty indignation that would send a young boy’s ball-sack back into his pelvis.
This, she would later have to confess, was a misstatement. The boys had asked for white girls.
Then there was the class angle. The young woman was working her way through college at the comparatively down-market North Carolina Central, a public university. This was true. Also true was that the woman was hired through an escort service, where she had been working for several months. No novice to stripping, she. No first-timer frightened by the boys, either.
Okay. There was always the white privilege slant: Southern college, lacrosse as a pricey sport, its players entitled white jocks from leafy suburbs. Most of all, there was the Woman Raped hysteria, which dovetailed neatly with Nancy’s recounting of slavery days when master imposed himself on hapless black servant girls, a scenario that borrowed heavily from the leering blackspoitation film Mandingo.
“I’m. Telling. You. People.” Grace said in her characteristic chop-shop style signaling an Important Announcement . “This. Is. A. Disgrace!”
When one of her guests mentioned that the accuser was, in fact, a stripper with a police record, Nancy rose up like a dragon. “Nobody chooses to be a stripper,” she flamed with firey irrelevance.
Her guest was a man, Nancy’s favorite foil, and with fumes smoking from her words, she reminded him that the accuser was “the sole support of her children.” Even strippers were not “sub-human garbage.” And “some people should put a sock in their piehole!”
But here’s where the open and shut case started to slip away from Nancy:
The woman cries rape and within an hour she’s examined at the Duke University Medical Center The doctors find no tears, no abrasions, no bleeding, only a suspicious vaginal swelling. This turns out to be a yeast infection. The victim’s story begins to change. She was raped by 20 white boys. Then it was 15. Now that she thinks of it, it was three. And three boys are accused, suspended by Duke, and soon appear on a poster distributed by the police presuming their guilt.
Meanwhile, the companion, the Asian woman, also an escort, also hired that night to strip, is incredulous about the woman’s tale. Rape? Imprisonment? The way she remembers it (and this would be corroborated by witnesses in nearby campus houses) the black woman refused to leave the party and went roaming about the backyard half dressed, loudly complaining about “short-dicked white boys.” That’s when a few of the boys called her “nigger” and she was ejected from the house.
But Nancy had been a prosecutor too long to be taken in by “the tricks” of the defense. “High-priced lawyers that Daddy bought,” she reminded her viewers with a frosty squint and a flaring eyebrow. A lot of spleen was vented over “the ‘N’ word,” a pious snit that seemed wrapped in both high-minded Southern guilt, and a low-minded resentment for that guilt.
And so it went on. For weeks. Every night at 8pm Eastern. The Avenging Angel, with the flaming sword of righteousness uplifted in her hand. Defender of Slave Girls. Those boys would burn.