Posted at 2 AM Thursday
✔✔✔ We've just found out that Duke University -- defendant in a racially charged civil case where a white female freshman alleges a black male from Durham raped her at a fraternity party -- has succeeded in getting the litigation moved from state to federal court.
The stated reason for the transfer: the plaintiff is now making federal claims under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. There may also be undisclosed reasons for the move in Duke's defense strategy.
February 11, 2007. A duplex in the Bentwood apartment complex at 405 Gattis Street. We have conflicting information on whether this is on Central Campus or not. An historically black fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma, was holding a party. Advertised on Facebook, it drew an estimated 100 people, including a black man from Durham with no university affiliation.
The black man, 22 year old Michael Jermaine Burch, who some say used the name "Chris" at the party, was charged with rape. He copped a plea and will be in state prison until 2013. The plea not only involved the Duke case -- but another forcible sexual incident that occurred while he was out on bail for the Duke rape. In both cases, he pleaded guilty to attempted rape.
✔✔✔✔ A prosecutor said if the Duke case had gone to trial, the state would have presented evidence showing the 18-year-old Duke freshman dancing with and making out with Burch. Both were said to be intoxicated from a punch served at the party.
The freshmen went to the bathroom. Burch followed her in. The two kissed again, and according to the freshman, she told him she did not want intercourse but he would not stop. A search warrant indicates that others at the party -- wanting to use the bathroom -- could not get in for perhaps an hour, and that they heard "thumping" from inside.
After Burch went to jail, the freshman outed herself in an interview with her hometown paper on Long Island, Newsday. Her name: Katharine Rouse.
✔ So what are the allegations against Duke?
While Duke officials said they offered Rouse support, the lawsuit says Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta went on Raleigh TV to say the rape was "part of the reality of college life and of experimentation and some of the consequences of students not necessarily always being in the right place at the right time." This, the lawsuit contends, created a "hostile environment" on campus that violated federal law.
There's more. After leaving Duke, Rouse battled the university over doing school work at home. And she battled again when she returned to Durham for a semester and then wanted a second leave. Rouse contends that at this point Duke tricked her into leaving permanently, but Duke contends it was clear that she would be withdrawing from the university and "not be eligible for automatic re-enrollment." Rouse claims that during this period, she was entitled to Disability Act protection because of psychological problems stemming from "a white woman who accused an African-American of rape."
Rouse seeks compensatory and punitive damages, the total not specified. Duke answered the complaint June 19. One of Duke's defenses: the statute of limitation had tolled, and Rouse, represented by Durham trial lawyer Bob Eckstrand, waited too long to file suit. Duke also denies the substance of the charges.
✔✔ FC has heard from several Loyal Readers who draw parallels with another sexually charged rape allegation -- the lacrosse hoax where a black woman falsely charged three white Duke students. "The response by Duke University was very different this time around. There were no prayers, marches, or candlelight vigils for Katie Rouse."
After being charged with raping Rouse, Burch got out on $40,000 bail. The lacrosse players bond was initially $400,000, reduced months later to $100,000. And in the house where Rouse was raped, the cops found a gun and narcotics.