2. Duke Lacrosse False Accusations
In 2006, a sexual assault scandal engulfed the nation. Three members of the Duke lacrosse team were accused by a stripper and prostitute of raping her. A large array of issues were covered throughout the case, as it involved a wealthy and privileged trio of white men at an elite university and a disadvantaged black accuser. As it turned out, the female had lied and invented most of her story from events which hadn’t actually happened.
However, the larger issue was that much of the media covered the event in a largely deplorable manner, essentially convicting the three Duke lacrosse players in the court of public opinion. The pressure was so intense that the entire 2006 Duke lacrosse season was cancelled and the head coach was forced to resign. In 2007, the charges against the players were dismissed. The lead prosecutor acted so improperly that he was forced to resign and was ultimately disbarred. This instance pitted Americans against each other on lines of race, gender, and class for one of the first times in the “internet” era. The rush to judgment resulted in much anger, particularly among whites who felt they were being unfairly scapegoated, and left wounds which still remain unhealed.