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Prosecutors Drop Charges in Duke CaseWednesday,
April 11, 2007 RALEIGH, N.C. - The Duke lacrosse rape case finally collapsed Wednesday, with North Carolina's top prosecutor saying the three athletes were railroaded by a district attorney who ignored increasingly flimsy evidence in a "tragic rush to accuse."In a blistering assessment of the case, Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped all charges against the players, all but ensuring that only one person in the whole scandal will be held to account: Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong."This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor," Cooper said.Cooper, who took over the case in January after Nifong was charged with ethics violations that could get him disbarred, said his own investigation into a stripper's claim that she was sexually assaulted at a team party found nothing to corroborate her story, and "led us to the conclusion that no attack occurred.""There were many points in the case where caution would have served justice better than bravado," Cooper said. "In the rush to condemn, a community and a state lost the ability to see clearly."Later, at an often-bitter, I-told-you-so news conference, the three young men and their lawyers accused the news media and the public of disregarding the presumption of innocence and portraying them as thugs."It's been 395 days since this nightmare began. And finally today it's coming to a closure," said one of the cleared defendants, David Evans, his voice breaking at one point. "We're just as innocent today as we were back then. Nothing has changed. The facts don't change."Defense attorney Joe Cheshire said: "We're angry, very angry. But we're very relieved."Nifong was out of town and could not immediately be reached for comment. But his lawyer, David Freedman, said: "If further investigation showed the boys were innocent, he would be in agreement with what the attorney general's office decided to do."Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were indicted last spring on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual offense after the woman told police she was assaulted in the bathroom at an off-campus house during a team party where she had been hired to perform. The rape charges were dropped months ago; the other charges remained until Wednesday.The case stirred furious debate over race, class and the privileged status of college athletes, and heightened long-standing tensions in Durham between its large working-class black population and the mostly white, mostly affluent students at the private, elite university.The woman is black and attended nearby North Carolina Central University, a historically black school; all three Duke players are white.The attorney general said the eyewitness identification procedures were unreliable, no DNA supported the stripper's story, no other witness corroborated it, and the woman contradicted herself."Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges," Cooper said. He said the charges resulted from a "tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations.""I think a lot of people owe a lot of apologies to a lot of people," Cooper said.Cooper offered no explanation for why the stripper told such a story and would not discuss her mental health. However, he said no charges will be brought against her, saying she "may actually believe" the many different stories she told."We believe it is in the best interest of justice not to bring charges," he said.The accuser's whereabouts were not immediately known. The Associated Press generally does not identify accusers in sex-crime cases.Portraying Nifong as a "rogue prosecutor," Cooper called for the passage of a law that would allow the North Carolina Supreme Court to remove a district attorney where justice demands it.Cooper declined to say whether he believes Nifong should be disbarred, saying it would not be fair to pass judgment before he goes on trial before the state bar in June.At the news conference with his former teammates, Finnerty said: "Knowing I had the truth on my side was really the most comforting thing at all throughout this last year."Seligmann thanked his lawyers for sparing him from 30 years in prison for a "hoax" and complained that society has lost sight of the presumption of innocence. "This entire experience has opened my eyes up to a tragic world of injustice," he said.The case was troubled almost from the start. DNA failed to connect any of the athletes to the 28-year-old stripper. One of the athletes claimed to have ATM receipts and time-stamped photos that provided an alibi. It was also learned that the stripper had leveled similar gang-rape allegations a decade ago, and no charges resulted.Then, in December, Nifong dropped the rape charges after the woman said she was no longer certain she was penetrated.Nifong came under furious criticism from the community, the university and members of the bar for pressing ahead with a case that they said seemed pitifully weak.The district attorney withdrew from the case in January after the North Carolina bar charged him with making misleading and inflammatory comments to the media about the athletes under suspicion. The bar later added more serious charges of withholding evidence from defense attorneys and lying to the court.Among other things, Nifong called the athletes "a bunch of hooligans" and declared DNA evidence would identify the guilty. He was also accused of withholding the results of lab tests that found DNA from several men - none of them lacrosse team members - on the accuser's underwear and body.Duke suspended Seligmann, 21, of Essex Fells, N.J., and Finnerty, 20, of Garden City, N.Y., after their arrest. Both were invited to return to campus this year, but neither accepted. Evans, 24, of Bethesda, Md., graduated the day before he was indicted.In the uproar over the allegations, Duke canceled the rest of the team's 2006 season, the lacrosse coach resigned under fire, and a schism opened up on the faculty between those who supported the athletes and those who accused them of getting away with loutish frat-boy behavior for too long.The team resumed play this year."Two days after this happened, I knew what the truth was. When you say you believe in somebody, when you say you believe the truth, you stand by them," said former Duke lacrosse coach Mike Pressler, now lacrosse coach at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I.James Ammons, chancellor of North Carolina Central University, said that because of the Duke case, NCCU and Duke "engaged in some very important discussions and forums that enhanced our tolerance and raised awareness regarding race, class, sexual assault and athletic privilege.""Now that the investigation has concluded, let the healing begin and the growth continue," he said.James Coleman, a Duke law professor who was one of Nifong's biggest critics, said he hopes the case makes the public "aware and sensitive to the importance of public scrutiny of what prosecutor can do.""They have enormous power. They can ruin innocent people and in some cases put innocent people in prison never to get out because they don't do their job with integrity," Coleman said. "That's really the lesson."
No,nobody has learned anything. Until society holds a female false accuser to the same standards as the accused then nothing has been learned here. The state attorney general holds Nifong accountable,which is great however he lets the accuser go..free to make another false accusation,free to create more victims,free to create another Nifong and free to wreck havoc upon the white male population. Crystal Gail Mangum has proven to be a liability to society and white males in particular and she deserves to have her face plastered all over the media telling everyone of the racist and sexist she is and include her past criminal record. And this Ammons clown hasn't learned shit. If he can't see the anti-white racism and sexism from his student body and take steps to correct it then he talking out of his ass and has learned nothing. As for the two who gave Duke the bird on returning-good for them they returned the favor. Duke said "fuck you" to them and they said "fuck Duke" back. If these three had really learned something then they might do something about this fucked up system,especially if they are pre-law and become MRA's. Otherwise nothing has been learned and watch for the same thing to happen,with different names,different location and different enviroment but same mentality.