Friday, April 13, 2007

Meet Crystal Gail Mangum

The Raleigh News and Observer has an in-depth look at Crystal Gail Mangum, the stripper whose lies launched the whole Duke lacrosse investigation. Almost all that is in this article has appeared elsewhere, but perhaps you haven't been following the case as obsessively as some of us have and so have missed some of the details this woman's sad, sordid life. Reportedly, she was abused as a teenager and that sent her spiraling into times of depression and marrying a man 14 years her senior, joining the Navy, and then cheating on her husband to have her first child. Of course, who knows if the story of her boyfriend "sharing her" with his friends is actually true. I don't think her credibility is very high right now, even for decade-old stories.

There are a couple of odd things about the saga of Crysal Gail. There is this story of her stealing a car and trying to run down a police deputy.
Then in 2002 came a night of bizarre behavior that would be repeated in the coming years, including at the lacrosse party. That night in 2002, she appeared coherent one moment and falling-down intoxicated the next. She had been performing at a Durham strip club late on a Thursday night, and while fondling a customer who was a taxi driver she slipped his keys out of his pocket, according to a Durham County Sheriff's Office report.

She sneaked outside and, without turning on the headlights, drove off in the taxi and led deputies on a tire-screeching chase over five miles until she crashed. She laughed at a deputy who approached on foot and tried to run him over, the deputy wrote in his report.

When she was finally taken into custody, deputies said she kept trying to lie down and finally passed out cold. She was taken to the hospital, where she slept it off. She had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in her system.

Mangum turned once again to Burnette, asking her for money to help her pay for the damage to the taxi and to a patrol car. After pleading guilty to misdemeanors, she spent two weekends in jail and was ordered to find treatment for substance abuse.
Since when is the penalty for stealing a car, drunken driving, and trying to run down a police deputy just two weekends in jail? I'd be interested in knowing if that was the standard sentence in Durham at the time for such crimes.

Then there is this description of her behavior while on the job at the strip club.
In early 2006, she began dancing under the name "Precious" at The Platinum Club, a rundown strip joint in the countryside between Durham and Hillsborough. Yolanda Haynes, The Platinum Club's manager at the time, told investigators that Mangum seemed mentally unstable and appeared to be under the influence of drugs or drink whenever she was there.

She also got into fights with other dancers and with patrons, Haynes wrote in an affidavit in connection with the lacrosse case, and was repeatedly told to stop engaging in sexual contact with customers. One night, Haynes wrote, Mangum had to be separated from a female customer after making unwanted sexual advances to her. Mangum then walked into a back room, took off her clothes and passed out, Haynes said.
Lovely. And, of course, the prosecution knew all this for the entire year while they insisted that they believed her contradictory stories.

And what was she doing in the time before the infamous Duke lacrosse party?
In the days leading up to the lacrosse party on March 13, 2006, Mangum frequently checked in with at least eight escort services, according to phone records that were subpoenaed in the case. She spent the weekend of the party with a friend, Jarriel Johnson, 32, of Raleigh, who drove her to a blur of escort appointments in hotels in Durham and Raleigh, he told police.
That might explain the DNA from five different men found in her at the time of the party, none of which belonged to the Duke players.

And the prosecution knew all this, yet Nifong is claiming that Roy Cooper was only able to review the evidence and clear the three accused because the Noble Nifong had turned the materials over to the Attorney General to ask for a review. Of course, Nifong only did that after the North Carolina Bar filed ethics charges against him.

And Nifong also says that the Attorney General had access to information that only became available after Nifong turned his material over to Roy Cooper. Of course, Nifong refused to meet with the defendants and hear their alibis and information. And Nifong's actions in turning over the materials was after it was revealed that he'd conspired with the DNA lab to hide exculpatory information from the defendants. No wonder that Nifong isn't winning over anyone with his phony "apology."

ABC reporter, Terry Moran says that we shouldn't feel all that sorry for the three Duke players because they'd been despicable enough to have a party and cough up money for a stripper. While that might not justify being accused of rape, according to Moran, still they're rich and they'll do just fine while there are many poor people who don't have their resources to clear their names. Yes, that is true and the publicity of this case has opened our eyes to the possibilities of innocent defendants being convicted. But sympathy isn't a zero-sum emotion. Just because we are angry over what happened in Durham and sympathetic with the former defendants doesn't stop us from feeling for others. Moran is a reporter; start telling us those stories on ABC instead of writing stuff implying that we shouldn't sympathize with people who suffer misfortunes because they're families are wealthy.

Meanwhile, Crystal Gail Mangum's life seems to have fallen away. She has dropped out of NCCU. I wonder if Jesse Jackson would still like to pay her scholarship. She could strip dance this past year because she was pregnant. She's broke and her name is now infamous as a lying woman who tried to destroy three young men's lives. The Attorney General says that he won't prosecute her basically because she's delusional and believed all the different variations of her allegations. So we have this woman who is, apparently, bi-polar, prone to abuse alcohol and drugs, a stripper engaging in random sex with multiple men, either delusional in her lies or an evil woman who just lied for her own personal reasons.

And she has three young children. The older children have already been scarred by this past year of controversy. Who knows what story they believe or what they think of their mother. Is there some point when the state steps in and says that, if this woman is too delusional to be tried for filing a false report, perhaps she's not stable enough to be raising these three children?