Duke rape accuser charged with attempted murder

Crystal Gayle Mangum is accused of assaulting and threatening her boyfriend

Published February 18, 2010 8:19PM (EST)

Crystal Gayle Mangum, the woman who infamously accused three Duke lacrosse players of raping her in 2006, was arrested and charged with attempted murder today, for assaulting and threatening to kill her boyfriend. ABC News reports that Mangum is accused of scratching, punching and throwing objects at the man, burning his property in a bathtub, and shouting "I'm going to stab you [expletive]!" while officers were present. The article notes "She was also charged with five counts of arson, simple assault, identity theft, damage to property and resist, delay and obstruction of justice. In addition, she faces three counts of child endangerment."

It would seem Mangum has a gift for drawing national attention to appalling behavior that women engage in relatively rarely, but with devastating consequences. Blogger Barry Deutsch, who believes that claims about the number of false rape reports deserve more skepticism from both men's rights activists and feminists, wrote in 2009 that based on "the (extremely limited) available research," The National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women's estimate that somewhere between 2 and 8 percent of reports are false seems to be the best guess; a tiny number compared to the percentage of women who are raped and the number of all rapes that go unreported, but not a number anyone deserves to be in. Similarly, the number of women who commit violence against intimate partners is relatively small, but as is true with regard to all genders, any number higher than zero is too high. As this week's revelation that accused University of Alabama shooter Amy Bishop fatally shot her own brother in 1986 demonstrates, overlooking or excusing female violence can lead to further tragedy, just as it often does when violent men are given the benefit of the doubt.

These latest charges also raise new questions about Mangum's mental health, and a 1000-page file on it that former Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong apparently downplayed during his aggressive prosecution of the Duke lacrosse players. Brooklyn law professor K.C. Johnson told ABC News, "If this case against Mangum goes to trial, one likely avenue of defense would be mental health impairment, so we might finally learn just how serious Mangum's mental health problems, which Mike Nifong ignored to bring his case, actually were." Let's hope this case is handled much better than that one was.


By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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