These days, three
months after the party convulsed both town and gown in demonstrations and
debate, Durham could be mistaken for a typical college community in the thick
of summer. Most students are gone. The television trucks have rumbled off down
I-85. With a trial date no sooner than next spring, the place resembles
landfall after a hurricane: sunny skies, exhausted faces, wreckage aplenty.
Scattered around a modest house in South Durham, a Ford truck, a Honda Accord,
a Volvo and a Nissan sit in various states of disrepair. A man is working
beneath the hood of a blue pickup.
He doesn't fix
anything for long. "I just get 'em running," he says.
The man's name is
Travis, and his daughter is the 27-year-old woman who has accused the three
players of rape. Since mid-March, when the case became Topic A in black and
white precincts of Durham, Travis and his wife have been the most consistent
faces speaking on the alleged victim's behalf. Travis gave his daughter
directions to the house on North Buchanan the night of the party, and he is
well aware of the pressures bearing down on her.
His daughter later
gave some details of what happened to The News & Observer in Raleigh, in
her only media interview to date, but most of what is known of her account is
what she told police: that members of the team yelled racial slurs before three
trapped her in a bathroom, then raped, sodomized and assaulted her over the
course of half an hour.
It has been almost
two months, says the accuser's mother, since they have seen or talked to their
daughter or her two young children. She and Travis have grown accustomed to the
media descending on their home to ask about the case. " Duke did something
to those DNA results so they would favor those boys," she said on the April
afternoon after the results were released. She said her daughter had gotten
angry with her parents each time they'd appeared on TV. "We told her we
were just trying to help her," the mother said. "I asked my minister to
pray with [her], but she won't come to church."
The woman is her
youngest child and the one who has had the most problems, including a run-in
with the law. (She pleaded guilty in June 2002 to four misdemeanor charges for
stealing a taxi.) She also made a previous claim of gang rape, in 1994. (She
said it had occurred in 1991, when she was 14; no charges were ever brought.)
"Last year we thought she was going to die of [ovarian] cancer, but God
healed her," the accuser's mother said in April. Asked if she understood
how much this case would subsume their lives, she said, "Could it get
It did. The
alleged victim, pronounced by the D.A. to have injuries consistent with sexual
assault, seems to have suffered trauma, if not at the party then somewhere
beforehand. But according to a recent defense motion, a police report states
that the second dancer at the party, Kim Roberts, who also goes by Kim Pittman,
initially told investigators that she had been with the woman for all but five
minutes and called the rape allegation "a crock." Defense lawyer
Williams last week showed SI the notes from an interview he had with Roberts a
few days after the alleged crime. "Crock of s---" are the words he
quoted from her at the top of an undated page. Also,
two weeks ago, The
New York Times cited Travis as saying that his daughter was undergoing
psychological treatment and was in no condition to testify.
"I don't know
where they got that," Travis says now. "A lot of times we hear stuff
about [her] in the paper that we hadn't heard before."