Rainbow Coalition Will Pay Alleged Duke Rape Victim’s Tuition
The Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/Push Coalition will pay the college tuition of a Black exotic dancer who told police she was raped by White members of Duke University’s men’s lacrosse team — no matter the outcome of the case.
“I can’t wait … to talk with her and have prayer with her, because our organization is committed, when she’s physically and emotionally able … to provide for her the scholarship money to finish school so she will never … again have to stoop that low to survive,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
The civil rights leader also said his group will pay for the woman’s tuition even if her story proves false. Attorneys for the lacrosse players have strongly denied any sexual assault took place at the March 13 party. DNA tests performed on all 46 of the team’s White members failed to match any samples taken from the woman.
But Jackson says there is plenty of circumstantial evidence indicating something happened to the woman, a 27-year-old divorced mother of two who is a student at historically Black North Carolina Central University.
A doctor and forensic nurse who examined the woman shortly after the alleged attack found evidence consistent with rape, according to court documents. Defense attorneys claim time-stamped photographs prove the woman was injured and intoxicated when she arrived at the party.
Attorney Bill Thomas said Saturday that a member of the defense team had interviewed the other dancer who performed that night, and that she “has stated point blank she does not believe this allegation.”
Jackson says the defense has vilified the accuser by talking about the photos and her criminal past. The woman pleaded guilty four years ago to stealing the taxi of a man for whom she was performing a lap dance, then trying to run a sheriff’s deputy over with it.
“There’s more evidence that violence occurred to her than she’s the lead of a hoax,” Jackson says.
Jackson has not spoken with the woman, but says he has been in touch with people who have. He has been told that she had plans to go to law school, and “we want to help her with that, too.” The woman should be able to support her children and pay her tuition without having “to sacrifice her body to make money.”
Thomas called Jackson’s offer to pay for the alleged victim’s tuition “very kind.”
“I certainly would have no problem whatsoever with that,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing for her.”
— Associated Press
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