Crime

Men, Women Differ in Views of Duke Lacrosse Case

Public more inclined to believe charges are true

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Women are significantly more likely than men to say the charges that two Duke University lacrosse players sexually assaulted a woman at a March 13 team party are true; women are less likely than men to believe that their accuser is being treated fairly. Overall, Americans are more likely to say the charges are true rather than not true, according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, though a substantial percentage do not offer an opinion. More than half of Americans say that both the players and the woman are being treated fairly in this case. Six in 10 Americans say they are closely following the case, which represents a mid-range level of interest compared with other news stories measured over the last decade or so.

Americans Paying Attention to Duke Story Divided on Truth of Charges

The poll, conducted April 28-30, finds that Americans, by a 44% to 34% margin, believe the charges that two Duke lacrosse players sexually assaulted a woman at a team party are true rather than untrue. One in five adults does not have an opinion.

Americans who report that they are following the case at least somewhat closely are much more divided in their views of the charges than those who are not following it closely. Forty-five percent of those closely following the case say the charges are true, while 41% say they are not. Among those not following the case closely, 43% say the charges are true, 24% say they are not true, and 33% do not have an opinion.

There is a significant gender gap in views of this case. Women (52%) are more likely than men (36%) to say the charges are true. More men believe the charges are untrue than believe they are true. Younger women, those in the 18 to 49 age range, are especially likely to believe the charges are true -- nearly 6 in 10 (57%) say they are true, compared with 46% of women aged 50 and older. Men view the case similarly regardless of their age.

Americans Say Players, Accuser Being Treated Fairly

More than half of Americans say that both the players who have been charged with sexual assault (52%) and the woman accusing the players (51%) are being treated fairly.

Fifty-seven percent of those following the case closely say both the players and the accuser are being treated fairly, while roughly a third say they are not. Among those not following the case, a higher percentage say both the players and the accuser are being treated fairly than unfairly, but nearly 4 in 10 offer no opinion.

Treated Fairly or Unfairly?
April 28-30, 2006

Following case very
or somewhat closely

Not following case
closely or at all

%

%

The Duke lacrosse players

Fairly

57

45

Unfairly

36

17

No opinion

7

37

Woman accusing Duke players

Fairly

57

41

Unfairly

32

22

No opinion

10

37

Men and women diverge on how the two sides in the case are being treated. Women are more likely to think the players (55%) are being treated fairly than the accuser (44%), while men are more likely to say the accuser (57%) is being treated fairly than the players (49%).

Younger women are less likely than older women or men of any age to say the woman who accused the Duke lacrosse players of sexual assault is being treated fairly. Forty-one percent of women aged 18 to 49 say the alleged victim is receiving fair treatment. This compares with 48% of women aged 50 and older, 55% of men aged 18 to 49, and 61% of men aged 50 and older. There are only modest variations among these age and gender groups about the treatment of the Duke lacrosse players who have been charged with the crime.

Treated Fairly or Unfairly?
Results by Gender and Age

April 28-30, 2006

Men,
18-49

Men,
50+

Women,
18-49

Women,
50+

The Duke lacrosse players

Fairly

47

52

55

54

Unfairly

36

35

22

23

No opinion

16

14

23

23

Woman accusing Duke players

Fairly

55

61

41

48

Unfairly

24

24

36

29

No opinion

21

15

23

23

Public Interest in Duke Lacrosse Story

Sixty percent of Americans tell Gallup that they are following this news story "very closely" (16%) or "somewhat closely" (44%), while 39% are following it "not too closely" (25%) or "not at all" (14%). This ranks in roughly the middle of events that Gallup has measured interest in over the past decade or so. Compared with recent events, Americans are following the story about as closely as they followed the recent Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

Men and women (63% vs. 59%) are about equally likely to say they are following the story closely. Older men, though, are slightly more likely than younger men or women to say they are closely following the story, with 58% of men aged 18 to 49, 68% of men aged 50 and older, 58% of women aged 18 to 49, and 60% of women aged 50 and older offering this response.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,011 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 28-30, 2006. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

26. How closely have you been following the news about sexual assault charges against members of the Duke University lacrosse team very closely, somewhat closely, not too closely, or not at all?

Very
closely

Somewhat
closely

Not too
closely

Not
at all

No
opinion

2006 Apr 28-30

16%

44

25

14

*

27. Do you personally believe the charges that two Duke lacrosse players sexually assaulted a woman at a team party are -- [ROTATED: definitely true, probably true, probably not true, (or) definitely not true]?

Definitely
true

Probably
true

Probably
not true

Definitely
not true

No
opinion

2006 Apr 28-30

3%

41

30

4

21

28. Do you believe -- [ITEMS ROTATED] -- is/are being treated fairly or unfairly?

A. The Duke University lacrosse players who have been charged with sexual assault

Fairly

Unfairly

No opinion

2006 Apr 28-30

52%

29

19

B. The woman accusing the Duke University lacrosse players of sexual assault

Fairly

Unfairly

No opinion

2006 Apr 28-30

51%

29

21

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/22696/Men-Women-Differ-Views-Duke-Lacrosse-Case.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030