As of this moment, we’re still unsure of all the facts in the Duke “rape” case, but it’s looking like the accused players could be getting railroaded to the point where, when this is over, District Attorney Mike Nifong might receive a lucrative job offer from Union Pacific.

The prosecution’s “evidence” seems to be adding up about as logically as the answers on Paris Hilton’s algebra exam, yet the case is still being pursued. Every time we look at somebody who may be falsely accused and wrongly convicted, we should shudder and think, “There but for the grace of God,” and investigate fully. This is an important case for all of us, as things like this have happened before and must not be allowed to happen to anyone again.

Defense attorneys for the three men from Duke’s lacrosse team charged with raping a stripper at a party have filed a motion with the court, as DNA testing found genetic material in the accuser’s body and underwear, but none of it was from any of the three defendants.

I repeat: None of it was from any of the three men accused of the rape.

This means the accuser was not with the accused, but rather other men (willingly or unwillingly we don’t know), or did a feet-first Slip-n-Slide through the men’s room at a packed football stadium. Either way, it’s not looking good for the prosecutor’s case, but he’s showing no signs of letting up.

First of all, the private DNA testing lab was hired by the prosecution. The testing was completed in spring, and the defense wasn’t notified of the results until October. Had the results turned out to include DNA from all three of the accused, we can only assume that Nifong would have immediately hired a skywriting company and town crier to trumpet this fact.

The hush-hush nature of the prosecutor’s handling of this important piece of evidence, or lack thereof, and his apparent dogged determination to imprison men who may well be innocent, could lead the most skeptical among us to ask one simple question: “Mr. Nifong, where were you on the night of March 13, 2006?”

It has become painfully obvious that the accused are being used for some purpose other than the pursuit of justice. If it turns out that the prosecutor is continuing to press increasingly discredited allegations, severe action needs to be taken. If this is all a political game, Mike Nifong’s last day in office should be the legal equivalent of Mussolini’s involuntary inverted pinata therapy at the end of World War II.

Republican Rep. Walter Jones wants the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Nifong’s conduct in the case to find out if the prosecutor simply pursued the case for political gain in a re-election year.

In the meantime, here’s my modest proposal, and one that would apply in general to any would-be out-of-control prosecutor: Let it be known going in that should solid evidence be found that a prosecutor pursued a false or grossly misleading case against any citizen, said prosecutor should be subject to at least the same sentence they sought to impose on the defendant.

There’s probably no way to know how many people are in jail due to zealous prosecutors and their lofty goals that had little to do with the alleged crimes by the accused. This country has enough trouble putting actual criminals in prison without using so much time and resource to manufacture cases against the people because some prosecutor wants to be re-elected or is just plain crooked.

There are few more heinous crimes than knowingly ruining the life of an innocent person to gain political power, and this should be addressed by sentencing rogue prosecutors (and judges, and politicians, etc.) who are found to have willingly engaged in this act to at least the same sentences they sought for those they accused.

If this turns out to be the fact of the matter in the Duke case, history might record this proposed legal fix as “Nifong’s Law.” Having a law named after you is a good way to impress your cellmate while simultaneously protecting any would-be victims of legal and/or political zealotry.

In the Duke lacrosse case, one thing is certain: Somebody has been raped. The only question now is who.



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