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To the editor: In her commentary “They Must Answer for What They’ve Done” (Aug. 6, Page 42), Angela J. Davis argues that it was an abuse of discretion for a Georgia prosecutor to charge 17-year-old Genarlow Wilson with aggravated child molestation for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. I agree with her, even though the conduct was proscribed by Georgia law and there was no factual dispute that it occurred. In the case of the Duke lacrosse players, however, the prosecutor’s decision to bring charges in the face of woefully insufficient evidence was indefensible under any standard. Yet remarkably, Davis writes, “[Mike] Nifong’s initial decision to charge three Duke University students with rape was not unreasonable.” What is the support for this statement? Davis makes two arguments. First, she writes that prosecutors frequently charge rape based on the complainant’s word alone. Really? I wonder how many cases she can cite where the complaining witness is contradicted by all other available evidence. Are those cases frequently charged? Second, she writes that Nifong was “undoubtedly mindful” that the justice system has mistreated rape victims, particularly African-American women. He would have been “justifiably criticized” if he failed to “pursue the prosecution of wealthy white men accused of raping a poor black woman.” This is a truly breathtaking statement, because it means that race and economic status justify criminal charges even if the evidence is lacking in order to rectify racial injustices of the past. Would the charges have been “not unreasonable” if the defendants were poor white men? Poor black men? What if wealthy black men were accused of raping a poor black woman? God forbid if the parties were just middle class. We would never be able to figure this stuff out. Nifong’s real reason for filing these charges was that he was running for re-election, as Davis puts it, in “a jurisdiction with a sizable African-American community.” In short, he was willing to sacrifice three innocent men to appeal to racial prejudice to win re-election. It is true, as Davis points out, that because the parents of the three falsely accused students had the wherewithal to hire lawyers who thoroughly investigated the case, the prosecution fell apart. Since indigent defendants lack those resources, it is valid to argue that they do not receive the same justice. This is a function of wealth, not race � see O.J. Simpson. Nevertheless, even here Davis plays the race card. Nifong got caught, she says, because his victims were “wealthy and white”; Wilson remains incarcerated The truth is much more nuanced. The Duke defendants were wealthy and not guilty. Wilson is poor but guilty. The Georgia prosecutor’s judgment was execrable, and perhaps he had a racial motive, although Davis offers no such evidence. I have no doubt that Nifong had a racial motive. I also have no doubt that no unbiased person could say that charging the Duke students was “not unreasonable.” Hamilton P. Fox III Sutherland Asbill & Brennan Washington, D.C.

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