November 2, 2012

Media groups support Scarborough author over Duke lacrosse case letters

Five media groups, including MaineToday Media, are backing the author’s resistance to being forced to turn over correspondence about the infamous rape case.

By Edward D. Murphy
Staff Writer

Five media groups, including MaineToday Media, are backing a Scarborough author’s attempt to avoid being compelled to turn over correspondence about the infamous case involving alleged rapes by members of the Duke lacrosse team.

The university wants Robert David Johnson, a Brooklyn College professor who lives in Scarborough, to turn over the correspondence to determine whether the former Duke players broke attorney-client privilege in their communications with Johnson. Duke is being sued by some of the players, who were charged in 2006 with raping a stripper who had performed at a house party hosted by team members.

The charges were eventually dropped a year later after serious discrepancies were discovered in the stripper’s story and team members produced alibis. The university and local law enforcement authorities were criticized for how the case was handled.

Johnson wrote about the case in a book, “Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustice of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case.”

Johnson’s lawyer claims the author is being singled out by Duke because he has been critical of the university.

The media groups argue that compelling Johnson to turn over his correspondence could make sources unwilling to provide information to authors and the journalists. They are filing a “friend of the court” brief in U.S. District Court in Maine in support of Johnson.

In addition to MaineToday Media, publisher of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal and the Central Maine Morning Sentinel, other media groups that joined in filing the brief are the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; the Maine Press Association; Bangor Publishing Co.; and the Maine Association of Broadcasters.

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