03/16/08 — College says 'no' at first to Dail's speech

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College says 'no' at first to Dail's speech

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on March 16, 2008 2:02 AM

Freed and exonerated former Goldsboro resident Dwayne Dail probably won't bring his speaking tour of college campuses to Wayne Community College.

Dail and his attorney feel a college representative rebuffed a request by the former county resident and his co-speaker, N.C. Center on Actual Innocence Director Chris Mumma.

Dail was declared innocent in 2007 after spending more than 18 years in jail for the rape of a 12-year-old girl, a charge he has always denied. He was cleared through DNA testing.

Since then, the XX-year-old has been touring the country, speaking on changes in criminal investigations and the specifics of his case.

WCC President Dr. Kay Albertson said the request might have been handled poorly, but that the person responding was simply following the college's rules, which require speakers at the university to be sponsored by a college representative.

Ms. Mumma said she does not understand why the college would not arrange to get a sponsor for him, and said the reaction left a bad taste in her mouth.

"After the reaction he got, he is probably not interested," Ms. Mumma said, adding that the college should have reached out.

Dr. Albertson said she realized Dail's conversation with a public relations officer "probably wasn't a very good conversation," but added that the reason was not Dail's speech topic.

"It has absolutely nothing to do with his message and what he could bring to the community," she said.

The president, who said she had only been briefed about Dail's request, said that all groups must have a sponsor to speak at the campus.

"I think, had I talked with him, I might have said the Criminal Justice Club, that might be a reasonable sponsor," Dr. Albertson said. "Sometimes we partner with people in the community ... trial lawyers, for example, or some attorney in town."

Some people pay to speak at the college, depending on their affiliation with the school, Dr. Albertson said. Groups or individuals might also be billed on a sliding scale based on their ability to pay.

Tara Humphries, who fielded the request from Ms. Mumma, said she was following protocol.

"I asked (Ms. Mumma) ... who her sponsor was going to be at the college, and she said she didn't have one," Ms. Humphries said. "Generally, our speakers, if they want to hold events here" have to have a sponsor.

Dail, who purchased a home Monday in Florida that he will share with his sister, Diana, his son, Chris, and Diana's son, T.J., said he had heard from acquaintances that the college did not want him.

"My understanding is that they were very uninterested, and this is from people I know in Goldsboro," Dail said. "It could be right, and it could be wrong."

Dail said he thinks there are some people in Wayne County who wish he would fade from the spotlight.

"The structure of Wayne County, and Goldsboro, they would rather that I just went away, and not be heard or seen," Dail said.

He said speaking at Wayne Community College was important to him, and that he told Ms. Mumma that before she made the request.

"I would love for the public of Wayne County and Goldsboro to know what's happened to me," Dail said.

Dr. Albertson said she hoped Dail and Ms. Mumma would call again.

"This wasn't meant to be a rejection of him," she said. "So maybe if we start all over with this, it might be a better conversation."

But Dail said other colleges, like Campbell University and Duke Law School -- with whom Ms. Mumma is affiliated -- pursued him, not vice versa.

"I've been doing a tour of colleges, and I thought they (Wayne Community College) would jump on that," Dail said. "Other colleges, they have all been the ones to contact me."

In the meantime, Goldsboro police and district prosecutors are still looking for the man who is really guilty of the rape that landed Dail in jail.

"We're still working on it," District Attorney Branny Vickory said. "(Police are) still doing some legwork on a couple of things. We're trying to run down all aspects on it."

Ms. Mumma said she was hoping "something would come down this month" on the case.

"Maybe next month," Ms. Mumma said. "It obviously is a huge piece of closure for Dwayne, and I would think, the victim."

Ms. Mumma said the pressure of public speaking catches up with Dail sometimes, but he almost always gets the better of it.

"Some weeks he emails me and says "I don't ever want to speak again," Ms. Mumma said. "Then I talk about other opportunities, and he says 'yes.'"