Justice has prevailed. Let’s celebrate a small victory for DNA. Let’s not pretend that Duke lacrosse players David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann will ever get their lives back, though.

They still live in a world where prospective employers won’t be able to Google their names without returning a combined 294,000 web pages (and growing). They’re still entering a society in which the hysterical, contradictory claims of a stripper can outweigh the lack of one whit of hard evidence for more than a year.

Good luck, gentlemen.

Thank you to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper for restoring my, um, faith in the legal system.

As for the narcissistic nitwit who perpetuated this lie from stammering start to ignominious end, if it is not possible for District Attorney Mike Nifong to decay in prison, may he never be allowed to fight any case weightier than a traffic ticket in this lifetime.

And while I’m sending forth props and pronouncements, what about my brethren in the national media who tried and convicted these athletes in the court of public opinion and shamelessly used the story as a political football? Here’s hoping that all your 2006 broadcast transcripts are given second birth and that each of you are Imused from the profession forever.

Their pervasive presumption of guilt wrecked three lives and three families while sullying the reputation of a university.

Sure, it can be rebuilt. Evans has his degree, and I hope he pursues a career that makes him a thorn in the side of lawyers and journalists until the day he dies. Finnerty and Seligmann are free to continue their education and athletic career at Duke, or more likely, somewhere else. The biggest scholarship offer in the world couldn’t convince me to stay.

Years may pass before the effects of the anxiety and sleepless nights come home to roost. And the whispering might go on forever.

Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann were unsympathetically profiled as white, rich kids. That’s wrong enough.

I also resent the extra indignation piled upon any athlete accused of a crime. Blue collars always seem to get wrinkled. You can bet that even in Lewiston-Auburn, there is a certain amount of hollow satisfaction that two men recently accused of murder are former high school athletes.

For every troubled jock, there are at least a hundred who could testify how high school and college sports stayed their course or even saved their life.

You never hear or read those stories. They’re harder to research and far less salacious than the Duke debacle.

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