Crystal Gail Mangum Isn’t Innocent, But She’s a Victim Just the Same

The woman who wrongly accused Duke lacrosse team members of rape was just indicted for murdering her boyfriend. I'm not surprised.

By Akiba Solomon Apr 20, 2011

If you’re the type to follow maddening, pathetic stories, you’ve already heard how Crystal Gail Mangum, the Durham, North Carolina, mother who wrongly accused three white Duke lacrosse players of rape, has been indicted for the murder of her boyfriend, Reginald Daye. She allegedly stabbed Daye, 46, in the torso during a domestic dispute on April 3; he died in the hospital 10 days later.

I’m not going to rehash the emerging details of Daye’s killing. I’m not going to do the "humanize her" two-step, either; a man is dead. But I still feel compelled to note what the hell happened to Crystal Gail Magnum’s body and mind long before she lurched into Duke rape case infamy.

Several events stand out:

  1. According to a 2007 News and Observer profile: "She was 14 when she took up with a man twice her age. Three years after that, in 1996, she told police that the boyfriend had "shared" her sexually with three friends in a trailer home on a country road in Creedmoor. She filed a police report but never provided a written account of what happened, as an officer had requested, and the case was not pursued."

  2. Also from this profile: "Her parents say the assault left her depressed and that she saw a therapist for a year after and took prescription medicine. But they insist she didn’t suffer lasting psychological damage." … Her big brother, Travis "TJ" Jr., 36, told the paper, ‘I might be wrong but I feel my sister had to grow up too fast. She was under a lot of stress. She lost her mind one time.’ His father countered, ‘She didn’t lose her mind. She was just depressed and got counseling.’

  3. And this: "[Hospital] records indicate that she had a long history of psychological problems, including being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and that she named two anti-psychotic drugs that she had been prescribed. People with bipolar disorder experience swings in behavior."

  4. By 2006, when Mangum accused three Duke lacrosse players of raping her, she was a divorced mom of two who had been kicked out of the Navy after a short stint. She was stripping part time and studying psychology full time at North Carolina Central University. According to the state attorney general’s final report of the racially charged case, Mangum encountered the Blue Devils when the escort service she worked with assigned her to what was supposed to be a small bachelor party. The host had requested two white dancers. What he got was Mangum, another black woman–and about 40 male guests. The women, who didn’t know one another, were reluctant to perform for a group that large but relented and collected $400 apiece. During the performance, Mangum, who had been drinking, "appeared to be unsteady on her feet and fell to the ground." After a spectator held up a broomstick and "suggested its use as a sexual object for the dancers," the women stopped dancing and retreated to a bedroom. Eventually, partygoers demanded a refund. Mangum, who later blacked out on the lawn, used a racial and sexual slur and claimed to be a cop. At some point during the melee, a white guest screamed, "Thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt!"

  5. Mangum was combining the prescription drugs methadone, Ambien and Paxil. She was clearly impaired during at least one meeting with investigators.

  6. In February 2010, a little over a year before Daye’s stabbing, Mangum was arrested for assaulting another boyfriend, Milton Walker, and setting his clothes on fire in her bathtub. By then she was a mother of a 3-, 9- and 10-year-old. Her kids were in the next room. Mangum’s daughter, called police because she believed her mom was going to die. But when cops arrived, they reportedly heard her threaten to stab Walker. Mangum–who denied she’d set the fire and insisted that Walker had beaten her–was charged with a slew of felonies including attempted first-degree murder and arson. The jury deadlocked on the felonies; Magnum was sentenced to time served for misdemeanor child abuse, resisting arrest and injury to personal property.

Mangum isn’t what TV newsmagazines and tabloids call an ‘innocent victim.’ But she seems to be a victim, nonetheless. Perhaps if her parents, community and law enforcement had realized the severity of her mental problems and confronted the sexual violence she suffered as a teen, her life might be different. Now a man is dead. And it’s too late.