The news vans have left; the court reporters have folded their dress-shirts; the lawyers have finally called home. The trial is over, before it even began.
Last Thursday, Raymond Clark III pled guilty to the murder and attempted sexual assault of Annie Le GRD ’13. Clark walked into the courtroom winking, and left having been saved from a grueling trial, one that would likely have dredged up disturbing details. He took refuge in an obscure Connecticut legal doctrine — one that admits his legal indefensibility regarding the sexual assault charge — and the quiet dignity of the Le family, who approved the deal. After switching his plea to guilty, Clark will serve 44 years without the possibility of parole. Had he been convicted of all charges at trial, it could have been as many as 80.
The community had a meaningful stake in this case. This may not be the closure — or the sentence — for which much of Yale had hoped. But it is the closure we have, and must accept. We will learn no more about the events of Sept. 8, 2009, five days before Annie’s planned wedding. Perhaps we should be thankful. Perhaps we now have the time and space to remember the weeks, months, and years of her remarkable life before that day. Raymond Clark III never deserved to be a part of Annie’s story; with his case settled, Yale can finally put him aside.
By the time Clark is officially sentenced on June 3, two classes will have graduated since Annie’s death. And the lawyers and reporters may well be summoned back in. If the Le family decides to file civil suit against Yale for inadequate security at 10 Amistad, our administration will face another reckoning. But until then, let us consider the case closed. Speculation is no more appropriate now than it was during that terrible week; remembrance is no less important.
For many of us, the case will be inseparable from our all-too-brief time at Yale. It was a tragedy and a discovery. Through it, much of the community met Annie for the first time: the mile-a-minute genius who always wore skirts on Fridays. The mark of her loss remains: a stain on our campus, our sense of safety, our mutual trust. Yale can never be quite the same. But we should not let the long shadow of Raymond Clark III divide or trouble our bright college years. Acts of such extraordinary cruelty cannot be predicted or prevented. We cannot and should not live in fear.
Future generations of Yalies will remember the murder through periodic commemorations, the way we remember others who were violently taken from us: most recently, Christian Prince ’93 and Suzanne Jovin ’99. But for the time we have left at Yale, we have a different opportunity and responsibility: to remember Annie as one of us, a member of this community in all the best ways. If closure has come — however imperfect — let us make the most of it.