Duke lacrosse case

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Coordinates: 36°00′30″N 78°54′43″W / 36.00831°N 78.91203°W / 36.00831; -78.91203 The Duke lacrosse case was a 2006 criminal case resulting from what proved to be a false accusation of rape made against three members of the men's lacrosse team at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, United States. The fallout from the case's resolution led to public discussion of reverse racism, among other things, and the resignation and disbarment of lead prosecutor/Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong.

In March 2006, Crystal Gail Mangum, an African-American student at North Carolina Central University[1][2] who worked as a stripper,[3] dancer and escort, falsely accused three white students, members of the Duke Blue Devils men's lacrosse team, of raping her at a party held at the house of two of the team's captains in Durham, North Carolina, on March 13, 2006. Many people involved in, or commenting on the case, including prosecutor Michael "Mike" Nifong, either called the alleged assault a hate crime or suggested it might be one.[4][5][6][7]

In response to the allegations Duke University suspended the lacrosse team for two games on March 28, 2006. On April 5, 2006, Duke lacrosse coach Mike Pressler was forced to resign under threat by athletic director Joe Alleva and Duke President Richard Brodhead canceled the remainder of the 2006 season. On April 11, 2007, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped all charges and declared the three players innocent. Cooper stated that the charged players – Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans – were victims of a "tragic rush to accuse."[8] The initial prosecutor, Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael Nifong, labeled a "rogue prosecutor" by Cooper, withdrew from the case in January 2007 after the North Carolina State Bar filed ethics charges against him. In June 2007, Nifong was disbarred for "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation", making him the first prosecutor in North Carolina disbarred for trial conduct. Nifong served one day in jail for lying about sharing DNA tests (criminal contempt); the lab director said it was a misunderstanding and Nifong claimed it was due to weak memory.[9] Mangum faced no charges for her false accusations as Cooper declined to prosecute her.[10]

Cooper pointed to several inconsistencies in Mangum's accounts of the evening and Seligmann and Finnerty's alibi evidence, in the findings report's summary. The Durham Police Department came under fire for violating their own policies by allowing Nifong to act as the de facto head of the investigation; giving a suspect-only photo identification procedure to Mangum; pursuing the case despite vast discrepancies in notes taken by Investigator Benjamin Himan and Sgt. Mark Gottlieb; and distributing a poster presuming the guilt of the suspects shortly after the allegations.[11] In 2007 the ex-players sought unspecified damages and called for new criminal justice reform laws in a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the City of Durham.[11] The case sparked varied responses from the media, faculty groups, students, the community, and others.

Timeline of events[edit]

Events at the house[edit]

The house at 610 North Buchanan Boulevard (demolished in July 2010)

Crystal Gail Mangum,[1][12][13] a student at North Carolina Central University,[1] had been working part-time for about two months as a stripper. Mangum's claims that she had only recently taken up this line of work were later proven to be untrue.[14] Mangum was working at strip clubs at least as far back as 2002 when she was arrested for stealing a taxi and trying to run over a police officer after having given a lap dance to a customer.[14] Before arriving at the party that day, she had, by her own admission, consumed alcohol and Flexeril (a prescription muscle relaxant).[15] Mangum's coworker that day, Kim Roberts, arrived separately.[citation needed]

According to statements provided to police by students attending the party, on March 13, 2006, a party was held at the off campus residence of the captains of the Duke lacrosse team, a house that Duke University owned and had previously purchased with the intent of reselling as a single-family dwelling once the lease of the current occupants expired. The players were consuming alcohol at the party. The party was intended as compensation for the team's having to remain on campus and miss Spring Break; several of the players were unaware that there were to be strippers until they arrived and were asked to contribute to their fees. [16] The players contacted Allure and requested two white strippers, but the women who arrived, Mangum and Roberts, were respectively black and half-black/half-Asian. One player asked if the dancers had any sex toys, and Roberts responded by asking if the player's penis was too small, according to the team captains. The player then brandished a broomstick and suggested that she "use this [as a sex toy]." This exchange of words abruptly stopped the performance, and both strippers went inside the home's bathroom. While the women were still in the bathroom, Seligmann and Finnerty left the house. The women came out, and Mangum roamed around the yard half-dressed and shouting.[17]

Shortly before 1 a.m., Mangum and Roberts entered Roberts' vehicle. Roberts[18] called the attenders "Short dick white boys", and "how he couldn't get it on his own and had to pay for it", to which one player yelled "We asked for whites, not niggers." Mangum and Roberts departed in Roberts' car.[17][19]

Roberts then called 911 and said white men who came out of 610 N. Buchanan yelled "nigger" at her from near the East Campus wall. Defense attorneys questioned inconsistencies in this statement – Roberts first said she was driving, and later said she was walking when the slur was yelled.[citation needed]

After departure[edit]

As Roberts drove away with Mangum, the two women began to argue. Roberts pulled over and attempted to push Mangum out.[20] When that failed, Roberts drove Mangum to a nearby Kroger supermarket, went inside, and spoke to a female security guard. She told the guard that a woman was refusing to leave her car. The guard walked to the car and asked Mangum to leave, but Mangum stayed in the vehicle. The guard said that she did not smell alcohol on Mangum's breath, but thought she might have been under the influence of other drugs. At 1:22 AM, the guard called 911 to report that Mangum refused to leave the car. Police then arrived, tried to remove Mangum from the car, and questioned her.[21] Responding police recognized Mangum, clearly having interacted with her before, and knew her name, home address, and that she had likely left two children at home alone, before she had said a word. They asked for other officers to check up on her children. [22]

The police took Mangum to the Durham Access Center, a mental-health and substance-abuse facility, for involuntary commitment. During the admission process, she claimed that she had been raped prior to her arrival.[23]

Mangum was transferred to Duke University Medical Center. Examination of her skin, arms, and legs, revealed no swelling, no abnormalities, and three small cuts on her right knee and right heel. When asked, she specifically and repeatedly denied receiving any physical blows by hands. Further examination showed no tenderness in the back, chest, and neck. [24]

There was diffuse swelling of the vagina, and investigators did not note any other injuries in the rest of the report. Mangum later claimed that she had performed using a vibrator for a couple in a hotel room shortly before the lacrosse-team party. This activity, or a yeast infection, might account for the swelling.[25][26][27][28][29]

McFadyen e-mail[edit]

A couple of hours after the party ended, Ryan McFadyen, a member of the lacrosse team, sent an email to other players saying that he planned to have some strippers over and made references to killing them and then cutting off their skin while wearing his Duke-issue spandex and ejaculating.[30] The email began:

"To whom it may concern, tomorrow night, after tonights show, ive decided to have some strippers over to edens 2c. all are welcome.. however there will be no nudity. I plan on killing the bitches as soon as the[y] walk in and proceding to cut their skin off while cumming in my duke issue spandex . . all in besides arch and tack [two of his teammates] please respond"[31]

Some of the players suggested the e-mail was conceived as humorous irony. Administrators asserted the email was an imitation of Patrick Bateman, the protagonist in the Bret Easton Ellis novel, American Psycho, which was read and lectured on in more than one Duke class. This was evident from the email responses from other players (one saying, "I'll bring the Phil Collins", another reference to the book and film). However, police refused to release the remainder of the email exchanges, leaving the assumption that the McFadyen email was actually intended as a serious threat. McFadyen thereafter received a thousand death threats in one week.[32] The email led many people to assume guilt on the part of the players.[31] McFadyen was not charged with any crime, but he was temporarily suspended from Duke, due to what the university described as safety concerns. He was invited back to Duke to continue his studies later that summer.[33]

Investigation and prosecution[edit]

DNA tests[edit]

Shortly after the party, the prosecution ordered 46 of the 47 team members to provide DNA samples (the only black member of the team was exempt since Mangum had stated that her attackers were white), though some members had been absent from the party. The players gave cheek swabs and statements to the police the day after the party. They also offered to take polygraph tests, but the police turned them down.[17] On April 10, 2006, it was revealed that DNA testing had failed to connect any of the 46 tested members of the Duke University men's lacrosse team.[34]

After the initial rounds of testing by the state crime lab, the district attorney sought the services of a private laboratory (DNA Security of Burlington) to conduct additional tests. DNA from multiple males was found inside Mangum and upon the rape kit items that had been tested, but none matched any of the lacrosse players.[35] Mike Nifong falsely represented to the public and to the court that DNA had only been found from a single male source, her boyfriend.[36][37]

Defense attorneys argued in a motion on December 15, 2006 that the DNA report given to Nifong's office (and thus what the defense attorneys received) was incomplete because it omitted information which showed that none of the genetic material from several men found on the woman matched DNA samples taken from any of the players. The director of the DNA lab, Brian Meehan, who wrote the misleading report, acknowledged that the decision violated the lab's policies, but stated that his lab did not try to withhold information.[38] Rather, Meehan claimed, he decided to withhold the exculpatory DNA evidence after discussing it with Nifong in an attempt to not drag anyone else through the mud.[39] Meehan was later fired in October 2007 based on this incident.[40]

DNA taken from all surfaces of three false fingernails belonging to Mangum which were retrieved from the trash in the bathroom (widely but falsely reported as DNA taken only from the underside of a single fingernail)[41] showed some characteristics similar to David Evans' DNA, according to the private laboratory, but the match was not conclusive.[42] Defense attorneys suggested that any DNA present may have come from the tissue paper, cotton swabs, or other hygiene-related trash that had been in the garbage can along with the fingernail, since David Evans had lived in the house. This was confirmed later by Attorney General Cooper's investigation: "... to the extent that Evans's DNA could not be excluded, the SBI experts confirmed that the DNA could easily have been transferred to the fingernails from other materials in the trash can".[43]

Nifong claimed that the lack of DNA is not unusual and that 75–80% of all sexual assault cases lack DNA evidence.[36] Rape victims often delay reporting by days or weeks, inadvertently destroying DNA evidence. In this case, Mangum had a rape-kit exam administered only hours after the end of the party, and the absence of DNA is considered unlikely by many legal experts.[44]

During Nifong's ethics trial on June 14, 2007, the complete DNA findings were revealed during defense attorney Brad Bannon's testimony. It revealed, according to conservative estimates, that the lab had discovered at least two unidentified males' DNA in Mangum's pubic region; at least two unidentified males' DNA in her rectum; at least four to five unidentified males' DNA on her underpants; and at least one identified male's DNA in her vagina.[45]

Arrests and investigation timeline[edit]

On April 10, 2006, defense attorneys stated that time-stamped photographs existed which showed the dancer was already injured when she arrived and very impaired.[46]

On April 18, 2006, two members of the lacrosse team, Collin Finnerty, 19, and Reade Seligmann, 20, were arrested and indicted on charges of first degree forcible rape, first degree sexual offense and kidnapping.[47][48] Finnerty had previously been charged with threatening a man in Washington, DC with his fists and shouting anti-gay epithets at him, after having been struck from behind and knocked down, while attempting to separate two quarrelers. That incident had not been cited as a hate crime, nor was it ever alleged that Finnerty had struck anyone. He was ordered to community service in November 2005 as part of a diversion program. After the Durham charges appeared, the US attorney for the District cancelled his diversion agreement and ordered him to stand trial. There the chief defense witness was not permitted to testify, and police officers "remembered" new facts which were not in their notes, and Finnerty was sentenced to a jail term, which was suspended. Thereafter he was continually harassed by the judge (John H. Bayly), with threats of confinement--once, after an anonymous email falsely accused him of violating an order preventing him from being in Georgetown; and once after he was absent from home and missed an obligatory curfew, in order to be in Durham to work on his defense there--an absence which he had previously cleared with the court's own supervising agency. Some observers noted the similarity of this treatment with that applied to other witnesses whom the government attempted to pressure to testify in a certain manner. [49]

On January 10, 2007, the matter was expunged from Finnerty's record by a judge who had monitored Finnerty for several months and learned more about his character.[50][51] Seligmann reportedly told multiple teammates "I'm glad they picked me", alluding to a solid alibi in the form of ATM records, photographs, cell phone records, an affidavit from a taxi driver, and a record of his DukeCard being swiped at his dorm.[52] The same day, search warrants were executed on Finnerty and Seligmann's dorm rooms.[53][54]

On May 15, 2006, a third Duke lacrosse team player, former team captain and 2006 Duke graduate David Evans, was indicted on charges of first-degree forcible rape, sexual offense and kidnapping. Just before turning himself in at the Durham County Detention Center, he made a public statement declaring his innocence and his expectation of being cleared of the charges within weeks.[55][56][57][58]

On June 8, 2006, court documents revealed that Roberts, in her initial statement, had said she was with Mangum the entire evening except for a period of less than five minutes. Additionally, after hearing Mangum saying she was sexually assaulted, she was incredulous.[59]

On December 22, 2006, District Attorney Mike Nifong dropped the rape charges against all three lacrosse players. The kidnapping and sexual offense charges were still pending against all three players. On December 28, 2006, the North Carolina bar filed ethics charges against Nifong over his conduct in the case, accusing him of making public statements that were prejudicial to the administration of justice and of engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. The 17-page document accuses Nifong of violating four rules of professional conduct, listing more than 100 examples of statements he made to the media.[60]

On January 12, 2007, Nifong sent a letter to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper asking to be taken off the case, giving the responsibility of the case to the Attorney General's office.[61] The following day, Cooper announced that his office would take over the case. On January 24, 2007, the North Carolina State Bar filed a second round of ethics charges against Nifong for a systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion that was prejudicial to the administration of justice when he withheld DNA evidence to mislead the court.[62]

On March 23, 2007, Justin Paul Caulfield, a legal analyst for Inside Lacrosse Magazine, stated on Fox News that charges would soon be dropped.[63] While the North Carolina Attorney General's Office first disputed the report, on April 11, 2007, it announced that it had dismissed all charges against the three lacrosse players.[64] Cooper not only dismissed the charges but also took the unusual step of declaring the accused players innocent. Cooper also announced that Mangum would not be prosecuted, stating that investigators and attorneys that had interviewed her thought "she may actually believe the many different stories that she has been telling" and "it's in the best interest of justice not to bring charges".[65]

Defense and media questioning[edit]

Credibility of the accuser[edit]

Lawyers for the Duke lacrosse players have said that Mangum was intoxicated with alcohol and possibly other drugs.[66] By the accuser's own admission to police, she had taken prescription Flexeril and drank "one or two large-size beers" before the party.[67] It was since confirmed by the Attorney General's office that Mangum has taken Ambien, methadone, Paxil and amitriptyline, although when she began taking these medications is uncertain.[43] She has a long history of mental problems and suffers from bipolar disorder.[68] She also has taken anti-psychotic medications (which are also used as mood stabilizers) such as Seroquel.[69]

The Duke defense lawyers or media reports have said that:

  • DNA results revealed that the woman had sex with a man who was not a Duke lacrosse player. Attorney Joseph Cheshire said the tests indicated DNA from a single male source came from a vaginal swab taken from Mangum. Media outlets reported that this DNA was from her boyfriend.[36] However, it was later revealed that DNA from multiple males who were neither the lacrosse players nor Mangum's boyfriend had been found, but that these findings had been deliberately withheld from the Court and the defense.[70]
  • She had made a similar claim in the past which she did not pursue. On August 18, 1996, the dancer – then 18 years old – told a police officer in Creedmoor she had been raped by three men in June 1993, according to a police document. The officer who took the woman's report at that time asked her to write a detailed timeline of the night's events and bring the account back to the police, but she never returned.[13][71][72]
  • The strip club's security officer said that Mangum told co-workers four days after the party that she was going to get money from some boys at a Duke party who had not paid her, mentioning that the boys were white. The security guard did not make a big deal of it because he felt that no one took her seriously.[73]
  • Mangum was arrested in 2002 for stealing a cab from a strip club where she had been working. She led police officers on a high-speed chase before she was apprehended, at which point her blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.[74] She was sentenced to three weekends in detention.[12][75]

Inconsistencies in Mangum's story[edit]

Over the course of the scandal, police reports, media investigations, and defense attorneys' motions and press conferences brought to light several key inconsistencies in Mangum's story.[68][76]

Some of the questions about her credibility were:

  • Durham police said that Mangum kept changing her story and was not credible, reporting that she initially told them she was raped by 20 white men, later reducing the number to only three.
  • Another police report states that Mangum initially claimed she was only groped, rather than raped, but changed her story before going to the hospital.
  • The second stripper who performed at the house, Kim Roberts, said that Mangum was not raped. She stated that Mangum was not obviously hurt. Likewise, she refuted other aspects of Mangum's story including denying that she helped dress Mangum after the party and saying that they were not forcefully separated by players as Mangum had reported.[77]
  • Mangum did not consistently choose the same three defendants in the photo lineups. Media reports have disclosed at least two photo lineups that occurred in March and April in which she was asked to recall who she saw at the party and in what capacity. In the March lineup, she did not choose Dave Evans at all. There was only one individual she identified as being at the party with 100% certainty during both procedures – Brad Ross.[78] After being identified, Ross provided to police investigators indisputable evidence that he was with his girlfriend at North Carolina State University before, during, and after the party through cell phone records as well as an affidavit from a witness.[citation needed]
  • On December 22, 2006, Nifong dropped the rape charges after Mangum stated that she was penetrated from behind but that she did not know with what. In North Carolina, penetration with an object is considered sexual assault, not rape.[79]
  • On January 11, 2007, several more inconsistencies came to light after the defense filed a motion detailing her interview on December 21, 2006. For example, she changed details about when she was attacked, who attacked her, and how they attacked her:[80][81]
    • In the new version from the December 21 interview, Mangum claims she was attacked from 11:35 p.m. to midnight, much earlier than her previous accusations. This new timing is before the well-documented alibi evidence for Reade Seligmann that places him away from the house. However, the defense revealed that this new timing would suggest Seligmann was on the phone with his girlfriend during the height of the attack. Additionally, she received an incoming call at 11:36 p.m. and somebody stayed on the line for 3 minutes, which would be during the party according to the new timetable.
    • The new statement contradicts time stamped photos that show her dancing between 12:00 and 12:04 a.m. It would also mean that they stayed at the party for nearly an hour after the supposed attack since Kim Roberts drove her away at 12:53 a.m. In her April statement, Mangum said they left immediately after the attack.
    • Mangum changed the names of her attackers, claiming they had used multiple pseudonyms.
    • The accuser also changed her description of Evans. She previously claimed that she was attacked by man that looked like Evans except with a mustache, but later stated that the assailant just had a five o'clock shadow.
    • Mangum claimed that Evans stood in front of her, making her perform oral sex on him. Previously, she stated that Seligmann did this. In the latest statement, she stated that Seligmann did not commit any sex act on her and that he had said that he could not participate because he was getting married. Although he has a girlfriend, there has never been anything to suggest he was engaged or getting married.
  • North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said Mangum told many different accounts of the attack. In one account, she claimed she was suspended in mid-air and was being assaulted by all three of them in the bathroom. Cooper then said this event seemed very implausible due to the small size of the bathroom. According to a 60 Minutes investigation, Mangum gave at least a dozen different stories.
  • Mangum, at one point, claimed both Evans and Finnerty helped her into her car upon departure. However, a photo shows her being helped by another player, while electronic records and witnesses reported that Evans and Finnerty had already left. Upon seeing the photo, Mangum claimed that it must have been doctored or that Duke University paid someone off.[69]
  • In its own investigation, The News & Observer, North Carolina's second largest newspaper, determined that Mangum gave at least five different versions of the incident to police and medical interviewers by August 2006.[26]

Chief Investigator[edit]

Nifong hired Linwood E. Wilson as his chief investigator. During Wilson's private detective career, at least seven formal inquiries into his conduct were performed, and, in 1997, he was reprimanded by the state commission. After his appeal of the decision was rejected, he allowed his detective license to expire. In response to criticism, Wilson stated that no one had ever questioned his integrity. Shortly after Nifong's disbarment, it was reported, on June 25, 2007, that interim district attorney Jim Hardin Jr. fired Wilson from his post.[82]

Durham Police Department's actions[edit]

Lawyers and media have questioned the methods of the photo identification process, and have argued that the police supervisor in the case, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, has unfairly targeted Duke students in the past.[83]

Photo identification[edit]

Lawyers and media reports alike suggested the photo identification process was severely flawed. During the photo identifications, Mangum was told that she would be viewing Duke University lacrosse players who attended the party, and was asked if she remembered seeing them at the party and in what capacity. Defense attorneys claimed this was essentially a "multiple-choice test in which there were no wrong answers",[84] while Duke law professor James Earl Coleman, Jr. posits that "[t]he officer was telling the witness that all are suspects, and say, in effect, 'Pick three.' It's so wrong."[85]

U.S. Department of Justice guidelines suggest including at least five non-suspect filler photos for each suspect included,[86] as did the Durham Police Department's own General Order 4077, adopted in February 2006.[87]

At least two photo lineups have been reported by the media. In the March identification process, Mangum selected at least five different individuals, one of whom was Seligmann (whom she identified with 70% certainty). During the April identification process, Mangum identified at least 16 lacrosse players. She identified Seligmann and Finnerty with 100% certainty and Dave Evans with 90% certainty during the April identification procedure. In the disclosed report, there were only two individuals that she identified during both the March and April lineups – Seligmann and Brad Ross.[citation needed]

Ross (the only player she identified as attending the party with 100% certainty during both procedures) provided to police investigators indisputable evidence that he was with his girlfriend at North Carolina State University before, during, and after the party through cell phone records and an affidavit from a witness. Another person she identified in April also provided police with evidence that he did not attend the party at all. In regards to Seligmann's identification, Mangum's confidence increased from 70% in March to 100% in April. Gary Wells—an Iowa State University professor and expert on police identification procedures—replied that memory does not get better with time.[88]

According to the transcript of the photo identification released on The Abrams Report, Mangum also stated that David Evans had a mustache on the night of the attack. Evans' lawyer stated that his client never has had a mustache and that photos as well as eyewitness testimony would reveal that Evans has never had a mustache.[89]

Accusations of intimidation tactics[edit]

Defense lawyers suggested police used intimidation tactics on witnesses. On May 11, Moezeldin Elmostafa, an immigrant taxi driver who signed a sworn statement about Seligmann's whereabouts that defense lawyers say provides a solid alibi, was arrested on a 2½-year-old shoplifting charge. Arresting officers first asked if he had anything new to say about the lacrosse case. When he refused to alter his testimony, he was taken into custody. An arrest and conviction would have destroyed his chance for citizenship and could have led to his deportation. Elmostafa was subsequently tried on the shoplifting charge and acquitted, after a grainy security tape proved that a security guard who was the prosecution's chief witness had "misremembered" events. [90] [91]

Police also arrested Mangum's former husband, Kenneth McNeil; her boyfriend, Matthew Murchison; and another friend, with the disposition of their own separate cases entirely in the hands of District Attorney Nifong. The daughter of Durham's police chief was arrested on an old warrant, and the chief himself remained absent from duty and invisible to the press for most of the case. [92]


The News & Observer suggested that the supervisor of the lacrosse investigation, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, had unfairly targeted Duke students in the past, putting some of his investigational tactics into question. Gottlieb has made a disproportionate number of arrests of Duke students for misdemeanor violations, such as carrying an open container of alcohol. Normally, these violations earn offenders a pink ticket similar to a traffic ticket. From May 2005 to February 2006, when Sgt. Gottlieb was a patrol officer in District 2, he made 28 total arrests. Twenty of those arrests were Duke students, and at least 15 were handcuffed and taken to jail. This is in stark contrast to the other two officers on duty in the same district during that same 10-month period. They made 64 total arrests, only two of which were Duke students. Similarly, The News & Observer charges that Gottlieb treated nonstudents very differently. For example, he wrote up a young man for illegally carrying a concealed .45-caliber handgun and possession of marijuana (crimes far more severe than the Duke students who were taken to jail committed), but did not take him to jail. Residents complimented Gottlieb for dealing fairly with loud parties and disorderly conduct by students.[83]

Duke's student newspaper, The Chronicle, depicted other examples of violence and dishonesty from Sgt. Gottlieb. It published that one student threw a party at his rental home off-East Campus before the Rolling Stones concert in October 2005. The morning after the concert, at 3 A.M., Sgt. Gottlieb led a raid on the home with nine other officers while the students were half asleep. It reported that one student was dragged out of bed and then dragged down the stairs. It reported that all seven housemates were put in handcuffs, arrested, and taken into custody for violating a noise ordinance and open container of alcohol violations. Sgt. Gottlieb reportedly told one student, an American citizen of Serbian descent, that the student could be deported. Other stories include the throwing of a 130 pound male against his car for an open container of alcohol violation, refusing the ID of a student since he was international, searching through a purse without a warrant, refusing to tell a student her rights, and accusations of perjury.[93]

Nifong after transferring the case[edit]

On January 12, 2007, Nifong asked to be removed from the case. On January 13, 2007, Attorney General Roy Cooper's office took over. On April 12, 2007, the attorney general, in declaring Evans, Finnerty, and Seligmann innocent, also called Nifong a "rogue prosecutor".[94][95][96] Nifong was ordered disbarred on June 16, 2007 after the bar's three-member disciplinary panel unanimously found him guilty of fraud, dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation; of making false statements of material fact before a judge; of making false statements of material fact before bar investigators, and of lying about withholding exculpatory DNA evidence.[97][98]

On August 31, 2007, Nifong was convicted of criminal contempt for knowingly making false statements during the criminal proceedings. Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III sentenced Nifong to a single day in jail.[99]

Wider effects[edit]

Effects on Duke faculty[edit]

Mike Pressler, the coach of the lacrosse team, received threatening e-mails and hate calls, had castigating signs placed on his property, and was the frequent victim of vandalism in the aftermath of the accusations.[52]

On April 5, 2006, he resigned (later revealed to have been forced) shortly after the McFadyen e-mail became public. Through his lawyer, he stated that his resignation was not an admission of wrongdoing on his part.[52][100] On the same day, Richard H. Brodhead, president of Duke University, suspended the remainder of the lacrosse season.[101]

Other Duke faculty members (sometimes referred to as the Group of 88[102] or the "Gang of 88") have been criticized for their "Social Disaster" letter as well as individual comments and reactions which created a perception of prejudgment.[103]

Effect on Duke students[edit]

Shortly after the party, the President of the University warned in a school-wide e-mail of threats of gang violence against Duke students.[104] Other Duke students claimed they had been threatened.[105] Mobs protested outside the house that had been the site of the party, banging pots and pans at early hours of the morning.[106]

Photographs of lacrosse team members had been posted prominently around Durham and on the Duke University campus with accompanying captions requesting that they come forward with information about the incident.[107]

Media policies regarding identity revelation of accusers and accused[edit]

Fox News was the sole national television news outlet to reveal Mangum's photo following the dismissal of the case, although MSNBC and 60 Minutes revealed her name.[1] Several major broadcasters did not publish Mangum's name at any point, including ABC, PBS, CNN, and NBC.

Publication of Mangum's identity[edit]

Partly obscured photos of Mangum at the party were broadcast by The Abrams Report on cable news channel MSNBC and by local television affiliate NBC 17 WNCN in North Carolina. On April 21, 2006, outspoken talk-radio host Tom Leykis disclosed Mangum's name during his nationally syndicated talk-radio program. Leykis has disclosed identities of accusers of sexual assault in the past. On May 15, 2006, MSNBC host Tucker Carlson disclosed Mangum's first name only on his show, Tucker.[108] Court records presented by the defense reveal Mangum's name.

On April 11, 2007, several other mainstream media sources revealed or used Mangum's name and/or picture after the attorney general dropped all the charges and declared the players innocent. These sources include: CBS,[69] The News & Observer,[109] WRAL,[110] all The McClatchy Company's newspapers (which includes 24 newspapers across the country), Fox News, Charlotte Observer, The New York Post, Comedy Central's The Daily Show (airdate April 12, 2007) and MSNBC.[111]

Effect on community relations[edit]

The allegations have inflamed already strained relations between Duke University and its host city of Durham, with members of the Duke lacrosse team being vilified in the press and defamed on and off campus. On May 1, 2006, the New Black Panthers held a protest outside Duke University.[112]

The case drew national attention and highlighted racial tensions within the Durham area.[113]

Jesse Jackson and Rainbow/Push Involvement[edit]

In 2006, Jesse Jackson promised the Rainbow/Push Coalition would pay the college tuition for Mangum. Jackson said it would not matter if Mangum fabricated her story, the tuition offer would still be good.[114]


On December 15, 2006, it was reported that Mangum was pregnant and the judge in the case ordered a paternity test.[38][115][116]

In January 2007, lacrosse team member Kyle Dowd filed a lawsuit against Duke University and against a visiting associate professor and member of the Group of 88, Kim Curtis, claiming he and another teammate were given failing grades on their final paper as a form of retaliation after the scandal broke.[117][118] The case was settled with the terms undisclosed except that Dowd's grade was altered to a P.[119]

Professor Houston Baker, who continued to accuse Dowd and the others of being "hooligans, rapists", called Dowd's mother "the mother of a farm animal", after she emailed him. Duke Provost Peter Lange responded to Baker, criticizing Baker for prejudging the team based on race and gender, citing this as a classic tactic of racism.[120]

Duke's Athletic Director at the time, Joe Alleva, who forced lacrosse coach Mike Pressler's resignation, faced criticism for his handling of this case. In 2008, Alleva announced he was leaving Duke for the Athletic Director position at Louisiana State University.[121]

The lacrosse team, reinstated for the 2007 season, reached the NCAA Finals as the #1 seed. The Blue Devils lost to the Johns Hopkins University Blue Jays in the championship, 12–11.[122]

In May 2007, Duke requested that the NCAA restore a year's eligibility to the players on the 2006 men's team, part of whose season was canceled. The NCAA granted the team's request for another year of eligibility, which applies to the 33 members of the 2006 team who were underclassmen in 2006 and who remained at Duke in 2007.[123] Four of the seniors from 2006 attended graduate school at Duke in 2007 and played for the team.[124] In 2010, the final year in which the team included fifth-year seniors (freshmen in 2006), Duke won the NCAA Lacrosse Championship beating Notre Dame, 6–5 in overtime, to give the school its first lacrosse championship.[125]

Reade Seligmann enrolled as a student at Brown University in the fall of 2007, and was an important part of Brown reaching the 2009 NCAA lacrosse tournament as well as a number 10 national ranking.[123] Collin Finnerty enrolled at Loyola College in Maryland, leading the team in scoring as Loyola made the 2010 NCAA lacrosse tournament.[124]

On June 7, 2007, it was announced that lacrosse coach Mike Pressler and Duke had reached an amicable and fair financial settlement. Pressler was later hired as coach by Division II (now Division I) Bryant University in Rhode Island. In October 2007, Pressler filed suit seeking to undo the settlement and hold a trial on his wrongful termination claim on the grounds that Duke spokesman John Burness had made disparaging comments about him. After Duke failed in an attempt to have the case dismissed, the matter was settled in 2010 with Duke apologizing in a press release and refusing to comment regarding any compensation to Burness.[126] On June 18, 2007, the families of the three players announced that they reached an agreement with Duke.[127] No details of the settlement were disclosed.

On August 25, 2007, multiple sources reported that the players would file a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the city of Durham.[128] On August 31, 2007, Nifong was convicted of criminal contempt for knowingly making false statements during the criminal proceedings. Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III sentenced Nifong to a single day in jail, which he subsequently served. On September 29, 2007, Duke President Brodhead, speaking at a two-day conference at Duke Law School on the practice and ethics of trying cases in the media, apologized for "causing the families to feel abandoned when they most needed support."[129]

Crystal Mangum graduated from North Carolina Central University in May 2008, with a degree in police psychology.[130] On August 22, 2008, a press release announced the planned publication in October 2008 of a memoir by Mangum, The Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum Story.[131] The press release says the book "can't and doesn't deal with the complex legal aspects of the case" but nevertheless asserts that "the muddling of facts about Crystal's life, along with North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper's desire to settle the dispute over open file discovery, swallowed the case whole." Attorney Cheshire responded to the news by saying that if the book was truthful, "I think it would be fabulous, and I don't think anybody would think badly about her in any way, shape or form", but that if the memoir did not acknowledge the falsity of her allegations against the players, that he would advise them to initiate civil action against her.[132] The book was published later that year. In it she continued to insist she had been raped at the party and that the dropping of the case was politically motivated. The book outlined her earlier life, including a claim that she was first raped at the age of 14.[133] On April 3, 2011, Mangum stabbed and killed her boyfriend, Reginald Daye. She was convicted on November 15, 2013, of second-degree murder.[134]

On July 12, 2010, Duke demolished the house at which the party took place, 610 North Buchanan Boulevard, after it had sat unoccupied for the four years following the Duke lacrosse case.[135]

In early July 2014 Sgt. Mark Gottlieb committed suicide in Dekalb County, Georgia where he had worked as a paramedic.[136]

Lawsuits filed by falsely accused players[edit]

On September 7, 2007, it was reported that the ex-players planned to file a lawsuit for violations of their civil rights against the city of Durham, and several city employees, unless the city agreed to a settlement including payment of $30 million over five years and the passage of new criminal justice reform laws. The city's liability insurance covers up to $5 million.[11]

Lawyers have cited three main areas of vulnerability for the city:

  • The suspect-only photo identification procedure given to Mangum.
  • Vast discrepancies in notes taken by Investigator Benjamin Himan during his March interview with Mangum and Sgt. Gottlieb's notes in July
  • The release of a CrimeStoppers poster by the police shortly after the allegations that a woman "was sodomized, raped, assaulted and robbed. This horrific crime sent shock waves throughout our community."[11]

Durham declined the settlement offer and on October 5, 2007, Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann filed a federal lawsuit alleging a broad conspiracy to frame the players. Named in the suit were Nifong, the lab that handled the DNA work, the city of Durham, the city's former police chief, the deputy police chief, the two police detectives who handled the case and five other police department employees. The players are seeking unspecified damages, and also want to place the Durham Police Department under court supervision for 10 years, claiming the actions of the police department pose "a substantial risk of irreparable injury to other persons in the City of Durham". According to the suit, Nifong engineered the conspiracy to help him win support for his election bid. Nifong reportedly told his campaign manager that the case would provide "'millions of dollars' in free advertising."[137]

On January 15, 2008, the city of Durham filed a motion to remove itself as a defendant, arguing that it has no responsibility for Nifong's actions. On the same day, Nifong filed for bankruptcy—a decision thought by many experts to be a tacit admission that he lacked the resources to defend himself.[138] On May 27, 2008, Judge William L. Stocks lifted the stay from Nifong's bankruptcy filing and ruled that the plaintiffs lawsuit could go forward.[139]

On March 31, 2011, Judge James Beaty issued a ruling on the Evans et al. case, upholding claims against Nifong and his hired investigator Wilson for conspiracy to commit malicious prosecution in the course of their investigation; the city of Durham for negligence; Nifong, Wilson, and police investigators Gottlieb and Himan for malicious prosecution, concealment of evidence, and fabrication of false evidence. However, the players' civil rights claims, which constituted the bulk of their Complaint, were dismissed on the grounds that the applicable civil rights laws pertained only to persons of African-American descent. [140] [141]

On May 16, 2014, the three accused lacrosse players and the City of Durham settled their long-running lawsuit. Under terms of the settlement, Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans received no monetary compensation, instead they requested that the city give a $50,000 grant to the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission.[142]

According to author William Cohan, Duke reportedly agreed to pay $60 million to the three accused (with each player receiving $20 million) along with confidential terms and apparent silence provisions attached.[143] Seligmann's attorney told the New York Daily News the settlement was "nowhere near that much money".[144]

Lawsuit filed by non-accused players and their families[edit]

On February 21, 2008, the families of 38 of the lacrosse team's 47 members who were not accused filed a 225-page lawsuit against Duke University, the Duke University Hospital, the city of Durham, and various officials of each organization for multiple claims of harassment, deprivation of civil rights, breach of contract and other claims.[145]

The complaint sets out a detailed view of the events leading up to the case, the university's response, and the subsequent unraveling of the case; it alleges corruption and collusion between Duke, the hospital, and Nifong. It accuses the university of refusing to enforce its own anti-discrimination policies as to faculty and student harassment of the lacrosse players, and of violating federal law when it issued team key-card access data to the Police without a warrant, and subsequently attempted to cover up the disclosure. The allegations also include the university's instructions to the team members to not seek legal advice or contact their parents, to speak to a university-approved lawyer (who represented the university, not the team), and to waive their civil rights. Allegations against the hospital were directed at the examining nurse who allegedly fabricated statements concerning the initial medical examination, her supervisor (who adopted those statements even though they were contrary to the examination), and the failure of the Hospital to supervise these employees.[citation needed]

Allegations against the city and its police department were directed at the investigating officers and their attempts to fabricate a case and their attempt to hide DNA test results, along with failure to supervise these officers. The plaintiffs allege emotional suffering, loss of job opportunities and damages based on the various statutes. They sought undisclosed damages as well as attorneys fees. Specific parties named in the lawsuit included, but weren't limited to: former university spokesman John Burness, vice-president for student affairs Larry Moneta, dean Susan Wasiolek, Richard H. Brodhead, provost Stephan Lange, former BOT chairman Robert K. Steel, and former SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy.[citation needed]

A Duke University spokesperson responded that "[w]e have now seen the lawsuit and as we said before, if these plaintiffs have a complaint, it is with Mr. Nifong. Their legal strategy — attacking Duke — is misdirected and without merit. To help these families move on, Duke offered to cover the cost of any attorneys' fees or other out-of-pocket expenses, but they rejected this offer. We will vigorously defend the university against these claims."[146][147] The city never released an official response to the suit. The lawsuit against the university was settled out of court in 2013. Neither side would discuss the details of the settlement.[148]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]