March 1, 2007

Seligmann Not Worth Hassle

Print More

Reade Seligmann may be on his way to the Ivy League. According to reports by the Associated Press and The Brown Daily Herald, Seligmann is being recruited by Brown to play lacrosse despite his pending legal matters. Seligmann is one of three former Duke men’s lacrosse players facing sexual offense and kidnapping charges due to alleged conduct with a stripper at an off-campus party last March.

“I feel like, until they work things out, it might be a little bit early to tell whether or not the recruiting process should or should not be justified. But, for us, he is innocent until he is proven guilty,” said Cornell men’s lacrosse coach Jeff Tambroni. “This family — the Duke lacrosse family and the Seligmann family — has endured a lot of prejudgment. I’m sure they’re very aware of what they did was wrong, in terms of having a party, but in regards to the accusations that were made, nothing has been justified.”

The Duke lacrosse scandal, brought to the Ivy League? Recruiting an athlete indicted on charges of sexual offense and kidnapping, involved in the highest-profile sports scandal of the past year, appears to show a lack of judgment by Brown, and perhaps the Ivy League. Reade Seligmann may be innocent — for all we know, he may be a great person to build a program around — but is one athlete really worth all of that trouble that could follow him?

What if Seligmann had come to Cornell after the scandal broke? Especially in light of the recent Nathan Poffenbarger ’08 stabbing, I wonder how we as a Cornell community would react to his presence on our men’s lacrosse team or on campus. This question is not as hypothetical as it may seem.

“Prior to Reade going to Duke, we had recruited him here at Cornell and thought the world of him as a young man,” Tambroni said. “We did speak with him after this whole thing went down at Duke, in regards to the potential of a transfer — that was prior to his accusation by Nifong and the legal system down there.”

What would have happened if Reade came to Cornell? The team, the University, collegiate lacrosse — anything and everything at Cornell — would have been under incredible scrutiny from the media and the public. I would hope that coaches and universities across the Ancient Eight would seen this potential and decide it’s not worth recruiting him.

Another problem has been that there is a wealth of information floating around the media pointing to the three players’ innocence, but only a few people truly know all the details of the case. It appears many people are being influenced to take the approach, to quote a slogan reportedly seen at Duke’s opening contest, “innocent until proven innocent.”

I don’t think I have a right to judge, either way. No one does. That is why I’m surprised Ivy coaches are so willing to truly overlook his impending trial. I understand that, when it comes to lacrosse, the Duke scandal has tarnished the image of the sport, and reinforced some negative stereotypes about lacrosse players. I can understand why lacrosse coaches and players would want to give Reade a second chance to prove himself to doubters of him and the sport. But I still don’t believe that this is a justified excuse for potentially disrupting a team or University.

Apparently, some of the Ivy coaches feel differently.

“I don’t believe that there’s going to be a negative fallout from anyone in the Ivy League recruiting this young man,” said Tambroni, who has kept in contact with the Seligmann family. “I think when it’s all said and done, I’m hopeful that everybody will realize that this young man was put in a very difficult situation, and I’m very hopeful wrongfully accused of all accounts, and that everyone will see him for who he is … a nice kid, a hard-working young man with great morals and values and that regardless of where he goes, they just give him a chance to get his life back.”

Frankly, I’m tired of this case. I’m tired of all the leaked information about what did or did not happen. I’ve had enough of people taking one side or the other, the media blowing it out of proportion and generalizing the ramifications. I’m sick of the implications and everything else brought on by the media. Let’s wait for the trial, make sure justice is served and move on. But with all the baggage he brings, now is not the time to recruit Seligmann. I’m glad we’re not, and I hope Brown will reconsider.

  • JusticeAboveAll

    Sensationalist title, vacuous article.

    Is the writer of this piece a Cornell student? If so, in restrospect, admitting him wasn’t worth the hassle. With all the baggage he likey has, trying to teach him how to write, and how to think like someone with a brain, has been a wasted effort.

    Society owes the falsely accused a debt it can never fully repay.

  • Anon

    Josh Perlin’s article is another example of a college writer choosing a controversial topic to garner readership and discussion without a firm hold on the subject. Mr. Perlin, it is incredibly dangerous to play judge and jury to something you know little about. Andrew Webb has already said it much more eloquently than I’ll be able to, but you have embarassed Cornell and the rest of the Ivies with your article.
    “A better course would be for the university to take a stand and set an example that its students could remember with pride.”
    What I take pride in is the theory of justice, and the hugely important concept of “innocence until proven guilty”. Cornell should be an ememplar of this American right, not to “take a stand” by turning its back on a person who IS, at this point, innocent.

  • lynp

    Cornell should be so lucky to get this young man. Harvard and Brown are talking to him – where is Cornell in the mix? The poster who said ” We know what did not happen is correct.” How can you not see the injustice here? It is a year from the incident and still no trial date. Cornell is everyone’s back up University anyway – in case, they don/t get into Harvard, Chicago and other top tier school

  • Cornell Mom

    I would have thought the Cornell Daily Sun would have higher journalistic standards than to publish this unsubstantiated drivel. Where are the editors? Where are the fact checkers? Even an editorial piece needs accuracy and timeliness. I am appalled at the irresponsiblity of this writer.

  • AMac

    If columnist Josh Perlin subscribes to the aphorism “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” then he will be pleased by the attention that his column has attracted this morning. Prof. K.C. Johnson (see his comment above, 3/1/07 at 9:51am) examines Perlin’s meta-narrative at his widely-viewed web-log, Durham-in-Wonderland.

    Online readers can access Johnson’s commentary here.

  • Thomas Sellke

    It’s too bad that you have so little sense and decency that you wrote this abysmally stupid article,suggesting that someone who is probably superior to you in every important way and who is the victim of a completely transparent miscarriage of justice should continue to be punished for a crime of which he is demonstrably innocent.

    If you have at least a little sense and decency,you will by now have some inkling of how contemptible your article is.In this case you should resolve to never write or do anything so disgusting again.Since you obviously don’t have good judgment,you will probably need to find others with better judgment to give you advice in the future.

    If you are not yet ashamed of this article,you should go to graduate school at Duke and seek out one of the “Group of 88” to be your Ph.D. advisor.In that case you’ll have a good chance of enjoying a career in which you’ll be surrounded by people like yourself.

  • per

    “only a few people truly know all the details of the case”
    true, but there is a vast amount of salient information of impeccable origin freely available on the web. Numerous of the prosecution and defence filings, together with relevant evidence, is available for those who wish to read.

    The difficulty here for you is that the available evidence establishes beyond any reasonable doubt that Seligman is innocent.

    “Frankly, I’m tired of this case. I’m tired of all the leaked information about what did or did not happen.”
    you cared enough to write about this case, so what is your excuse for not finding out the relevant facts ? You are “tired” of the case ? Or you don’t like the way that the facts are turning out ?


  • David Page

    ” Far above Cayuga’s waters there’s an awful smell… Tis the writtings from Cornell. ”

    If you were a Duke laXer it could have been you that was picked in that Rape hoax ID lottery.

    It is time for you to check some facts with the North Carolina Bar then do some quick editing and apolgizing.

  • Concerned for Justice in Wisconsin

    Josh, you go to a great school and therefore you should be capable of critical thinking.

    When you write, “Let’s wait for the trial, make sure justice is served…” did you think about that statement?

    In America’s justice system, only a fraction of alleged crimes result in charges being brought, and only a small fraction of those charges go to trial. Why? Because that’s what justice demands.

    In my state, about half of all criminal charges get dismissed before trial, and only 2% of criminal charges go to trial. Prosecutors look at the evidence and exercise discretion. That’s their job. If Mike Nifong had been doing an honest job, he would have never brought these charges against Seligmann in the first place.

    You want Justice? Then the charges against Seligmann (and Finnerty and Evans) should be dismissed right now.

    Sorry that you are so tired of this case, so sick of hearing about it in the media. This isn’t Paris Hilton we are talking about. Problems don’t go away just because you would rather not hear about them.

    And Sarah at 7:52pm: you write “..Seligmann has NOT been acquitted of his charges…” What part of innocent until proven guilty do you not understand? Maybe you think your college environment is above that principle?

  • WhyteRain

    I am not as offended by as much of Mr. Perlin’s article as most commenters seem to be.

    The two (related?) problems that jump out at me are Mr. Perlin’s comment that not everyone “know[s] all the details of the case” and that (therefore?) he doesn’t think he has “a right to judge, either way. No one does.”

    Let me explain to Mr. Perlin how the real world works. Mr. Perlin, a responsible person has not only a “right” to make judgments but a duty to do so when sufficiently informed of the pertinent facts. It is not necessary to know “all” the facts, only “enough” of the facts to make a reasoned judgment.

    Particularly in Mr. Seligmann’s situation — even IGNORING the holes in the body of the prosecution’s case — there is such a wealth of third-party exculpatory evidence (cell phone records, ATM camera records, taxi driver testimony) that no reasonable person can claim that he “cannot make a judgment” about Mr. Seligmann’s guilt or innocence.

  • Charles Carpenter BA59, MD63

    Josh, As an American I am proud to have served in this country’s miltary to protect your right to express your thoughts but as a Cornellion I am equally upset that the editors of the Sun thought that your column was worth printing. If Reade Seligmann were to enroll at Cornell and that resulted in “incredible scrutiny”, so what? If you know of problems at Cornell, in the athletic department or with the lacrosse team that can not withstand scrutiny, why not write about them? If we have problems at Cornell let’s fix them. I hope Reade returns to Duke and has a great lacrosse career. If he were to come to Cornell I would welcome him with open arms!

  • Lawyerboy

    As an attorney (a new one at that), I am all about upholding the truth and finding her wherever she may hide. That being said, I am also a proud card-carrying member of the ACLU and while I may not agree with Mr. Perlin’s statement due to the overwhelming amount of exculpatory evidence, I must uphold his right to express his opinion. To go even further, I applaud Mr. Perlin for his boldness in expressing what many would say is the minority opinion. Way to go.

  • Vegas grandmother

    The ACLU has totally dicredited itself in this affair. I have withdrawn all contribution to the organization, I supported for fifty years. As I have for the NAACP. Where I thought, the organizations were for protecting civil right, it is now clear that is only true for minorities. Which is a larger issue than Josh Perlin’s thoughts on this issue. Thanks Mr Webb for your essay. Well writen and well thought out. Josh has had his fifteen seconds.

  • Gregory

    I could say that hindsight is 20/20, but I knew the Duke case was a HOAX back in April 2006. So, Josh, you don’t even get the benefit of hindsight. Still, let’s look at how accurate you were:

    1. You said that “no one” has the “right to judge” the case. Well, well, did that include the North Carolina Attorney General who reviewed the evidence and found Reade Seligmann “innocent”? Did that include the North Carolina Bar Association which found Mike Nifong “guilty”?

    2. You wrote about an “impending trial.” Now, how’s that trial coming along? If you had paid attention to the “leaked” evidence like a good reporter, you would have known there wasn’t going to be an “impending” trial. I give you zero stars, and may God have mercy on your soul!

    3. You complained that Reade Seligmann would have been bad for your campus because of an unrelated “stabbing.” How does an innocent person falsely accused of rape have anything to do with a real stabbing? Strike three, and you’re out!

    If you ever write again, I would encourage you to research your subject, even just a little, so that you don’t look so damn foolish. MOO!

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Perlin,
    I feel very sorry for you as a journalist that you obviously feel that just because one may be innocent, that someone shouldn’t be allowed to gain admission as it is “too much trouble”.

    “What would have happened if Reade came to Cornell?” Ooohh, god forbid!!!!

    “Let’s wait for the trial, make sure justice is served and move on.” –> Keep on waiting…don’t hold your breath, they’re innocent.

    “I’m glad we’re not, and I hope Brown will reconsider.” –> See if you have this attitude, when you are accused of something you didn’t do and you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    But at least you got one thing right in your article –> “I don’t think I have a right to judge, either way.”