News in the Duke lacrosse team case

Police release a graphic and disturbing e-mail written by one of the players. Plus, the coach quits and the university cancels the year's remaining lacrosse games.

Topics: Broadsheet, Academia, Love and Sex,

More news in the Durham, N.C., investigation of gang rape allegations against members of the Duke lacrosse team (with thanks to all the Broadsheet readers who’ve been keeping us posted): Earlier today, authorities released a previously sealed search warrant used in a police search of one player’s dorm room in late March. Along with some computer and camera equipment, police seized an e-mail believed to have been written by player Ryan McFadyen (whose team number is 41) less than an hour after the alleged attack. It reads:

“To whom it may concern:

tomorrow night, after tonights show, ive decided to have some strippers over to edens 2c. all are welcome.. however there will be no nudity. i plan on killing the bitches as soon as the walk in and proceeding to cut their skin off while cumming in my duke issue spandex.. all in besides arch and tack please respond


Almost more astonishing is the audacious reaction of McFadyen attorney Glen Bachman, who acknowledged that “the language of the e-mail is vile,” but argued that it “demonstrates that its writer is completely unaware that any act or event remotely similar to what has been alleged ever occurred.” Because anyone who could be party to a brutal gang rape couldn’t possibly write such deeply scary and gorily misogynistic garbage afterward, right? Right?

Of course, the message doesn’t demonstrate that McFadyen or anyone else is guilty, and it’s important to remember that no charges have been brought in the case thus far. But to argue that you can tell someone didn’t commit or witness a hideous crime because he was comfortable talking about other hideous and sadistic crimes just doesn’t track for me. In any case, McFadyen was suspended from Duke today following the e-mail’s release (a decision that another member of McFadyen’s crack legal team said was only to protect McFadyen’s safety).

Also this afternoon, the team’s coach resigned and the school canceled all lacrosse events for the rest of the season. Which seem like appropriate responses. Here’s hoping this flurry of disciplinary and administrative activity means the university will work to make its campus safer rather than just riding out the storm.

Last thing: Broadsheet sends a big shout-out to Duke’s women’s basketball team, whose accomplishments have been a little overshadowed lately, and whose stellar season ended last night with a narrow loss to Maryland in the NCAA Tournament championship game.

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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