DURHAM - Last night, for at least the tenth time Paula McClain dreamed she was presiding over the castration of the three former Duke University Lacrosse players who were declared innocent by North Carolina's attorney general last April of all charges stemming from an alleged rape of a black stripper.
"They're lying on their backs on slabs, and I'm bringing the [castrating] device down on one of them," McClain says. "I'm just at the point where I'm about to snip-snip, when I awaken. The euphoria of punishing these evildoers quickly vanishes and I realize it was just a dream. Then I slink back into a very, very dark place."
McClain is one of the so-called "Gang of 88" Duke professors who signed off on an ad in the Duke Chronicle last year that many have interpreted as condemning the accused players before the facts were adjudicated. Thereafter, the prosecution's case unraveled and the District Attorney, Mike Nifong, was disbarred for pursuing the charges without evidence.
Since the players' acquittal in April, fifty-nine of the "Gang of 88" have been hospitalized for varying forms of depression.
Professor McClain's case is illustrative. Duke President Richard Broadhead went to McClain's office early one morning last week and found her lying on a couch, unkempt and unshaven, with a revolver in one hand and a bottle of pills in the other. Vomit was strewn about the floor.
"It's disheartening because [McClain] is one of the most popular professors on campus," Broadhead said. "I say that even though none of Duke's students are aware she is one of the most popular, aside from the eight who enrolled in her class last semester." Broadhead granted McClain a leave of absence to undergo intense electro-shock therapy for depression stemming from the acquittal, but he fears the only thing that will restore her to her pre-acquittal state is the election of Hillary Clinton as President.
Many of the other "88" have fared just as badly, and it didn't help that five days after the acquittal, Seung-Hui Cho went on a killing rampage at Virginia Tech. "When the '88' heard about [the Virginia Tech shootings], they anxiously awaited news that the shooter was a Caucasian male," said Broadhead. "One can only imagine how devastated they were when they learned he was Asian. They were already in a fragile state and, frankly, they didn't need that."