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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Duke Case: There was no 'there' there

Updated - today's items:

Dave Evans, April 11th statement, Friends of Duke Univ.:
There was no ‘there’ there --

From the very beginning, many of the men sitting at this table including myself, Reade and Collin said that we are innocent. And we are just as innocent today as we were back then. Nothing is changed. Facts don’t change and we’ve never wavered on our story. I would also like to thank all the attorneys at the table before I get into anything. They worked tirelessly. We have become family and we owe them our lives. And that’s the most I can say. I like to give them a hand, one more time...

I’d like to say once again, I said it a long time ago. These allegations are false. These charges were false and should never have been brought against us. We fully cooperated. From the beginning there was never a “blue wall of silence!” Look at the facts of the case and you will see that...

I hope that the state of North Carolina can address that arose from our case: most notably, the grand jury procedures. They are a check on the power of the prosecutor and in this state there are no records. What was used to secure indictments against the three of us? We have no idea. The evidence shows that exculpatory evidence was there but we cannot go back and understand why we were indicted. There was no ‘there’ there. There was no factual evidence. It was speculation...

In closing, I am excited to get on with my life. It has been a long year, longer than you could ever imagine. I hope these allegations don’t come to define me. I hope that the way I could be remembered is sticking up for my name, my family and my team against impossible odds. Impossible odds, the entire country against us! And we fought back for our names. You can never tell what life is going to give you, what curve balls! You can be judged on how you handled the situation that was brought to you. My family and I can sleep at night knowing that I did everything that I was told to do. I never lied. I fully cooperated, starting the day after the party. I can walk my head high and sleep at night knowing that I could not have done anything else to prove my innocence. This day has been coming for a long time.

Again, I like to thank professionalism of the Attorney General’s office for giving me back my life. I look forward to leading it. Thank you!
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Susannah Meadows & Evan Thomas, Newsweek:
That Night At Duke -- They spent a year accused of kidnapping, assault and rape. Now, though, the three Duke lacrosse players were told they were 'innocent.' The inside story of the infamous evening...

After the A.G.'s announcement, Finnerty and Seligmann, as well as their parents, some siblings and Finnerty's girlfriend, spoke to NEWSWEEK about the experience. The magazine also obtained the handwritten statements given by Evans and the other two team captains, Daniel Flannery and Matthew Zash, to the Durham police two days after the alleged rape. The statements, never before made public, and interviews with defense attorneys familiar with the evidence, tell the real story of what happened that night...

Strip shows weren't too unusual at Duke. Frats and other teams, male and female, were known to hire dancers to strut and carry on while students drank beer and hooted. Normally, some members of the lacrosse team patronized a strip joint called Teasers Men's Club, but because others were underage or had lost their fake IDs, Evans and his co-captains decided to hold the party at the slightly run-down house that the three young men rented just off campus.

The night didn't go well from the start. After an afternoon and evening of desultory drinking games such as Beer Pong, about 30 players were sprawled on the floor or sitting on a ring of couches arranged around the stage—a ratty, tan carpet. Evans explained to his teammates that he and the other captains had requested white dancers, but that a black woman and a Hispanic woman had shown up. No one seemed to care, according to the statement given to police by Zash. One of the strippers appeared to be intoxicated and had trouble standing up, much less dancing. Halfheartedly, she began kissing the other dancer, Kim Roberts.

Later, when the night was played up as a violent bacchanal, a "Boys Gone Wild" situation, Seligmann would reflect that anyone watching the real thing would have been "bored to tears." At the time, he says, "we didn't know how to react. It was disgusting. I was very uncomfortable and I wasn't the only one." Indeed, in a photo taken by one of the players and obtained by NEWSWEEK, Seligmann appears to be recoiling as he watches the dancers. Other players, dressed in khakis and polo shirts, plastic cups in hand, seem indifferent, chatting with each other or looking around as the two women fumbled and groped...
discussion:
LieStopppers forum: Major New Newsweek Article on Lacrosse Case
---------
Attorney Jim Conney discusses some previously undisclosed information about the case on the LieStoppers forum:
LS forum : Hero of Heros, Brad Bannon -- [Duke lacrosse attorney Jim Conney makes some comments] -- This is my first post (for obvious reasons). I now feel free to post and discuss certain aspects since this case has now come to an end and cannot think of a better thread on which to reply (other than one thanking the blog hooligans on this Board for their posts, ideas and debates over the past many months; all of which I have followed on a daily basis)..

Crystal Gail Mangum outside Duke house with Dave Evan's shaving kitAnd attorney Brad Bannon: thanks to all of you people out here on the internet who have monitored and pushed this quest for truth & justice...I didn’t know that Dr. Meehan was going to be there for testimony that day, and I was unprepared to question him. But I had spent a good bit of time analyzing the materials, and I’d had the recent fortune of studying how Jim used scientific evidence & expert testimony to free Alan Gell from death row...

A word from Jim Conney:
One incident in particular stands out. In January, we filed a Supplement to the Motion to Suppress dealing with Precious' December 21st statement to Linwood Wilson. In it, she claimed that the picture that showed her at the house after 1230 am, was in fact a picture of her going into the house. In the Motion we held back on 2 facts that proved this was not true. The first was that the picture actually shows her holding Dave Evans' shaving kit; a fact not publicly known (at least until now). The second was that the picture taken just before it, shows her with one shoe. Brad and I knew that Nifong and Wilson had missed this and that we could use it at the hearing to show what a liar Precious was. However, not 12 hours after filing the Motion, someone on this Board had posted the picture and pointed out that she was only wearing one shoe. I remember thinking "Damn, these guys are good." ...

more discussion:
Duke Basketball Report: Latest Lax News & Links
TalkLeft: Precious holding dave evans shaving kit in one shoed picture...
--------
WRAL
Duke's Lacrosse Team Marks Case Dismissal With Big Win -- It’s a special weekend for the Duke lacrosse team, who beat the defending national champions days after three former players were exonerated of sexual assault charges.

It’s also Duke alumni weekend, which meant fans poured in to watch the match, with the Duke team winning in overtime 8-7 against Virginia.

Students and administrators said they're not only celebrating one victory but two, as the team is no longer on the defensive...
related:
ABC11 TV/WTVD: Fans Vocal About Outcome of Lacrosse Case [+ video] -- Blue Devils clinch ACC title -- Some fans at Saturday's game expressed harsh words for District Attorney Mike Nifong, who is facing ethics charges relating to the case...
--------
News & Observer:
Player's lawyer: Accuser shouldn't be charged -- An attorney for former Duke lacrosse player Collin Finnerty said Friday that the state attorney general made the right decision not to prosecute the woman who falsely accused Finnerty and two other players of raping her.

"I really don't feel in my gut any need to go charge Crystal Mangum," lawyer Wade Smith of Raleigh said. "I understand the philosophy that people shouldn't be able to just do this and get away with it. On the other hand, I'm not sure that it enhances our society any, our civilization any, to now bring the power down upon her."

Mangum, he said, "is just one human being." The reason the prosecution moved forward, he said, was because Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong failed to investigate the case. Smith said Nifong did not look into Mangum's history of alcohol abuse and psychological instability.

Smith made the remarks during a taping of the television program "Headline Saturday," a collaboration of The News & Observer and WRAL-TV. The program will air at 7:30 p.m. today on WRAL...
related:
WRAL: WRAL Headline Saturday, Wade Smith on video

discussion:
FreeRepublic: Player's lawyer: Accuser shouldn't be charged
---------
Joe Neff, News & Observer:
Quest to convict hid a lack of evidence [1st in 5 part series]-- The district attorney moved quickly to take over the lacrosse inquiry. An N&O review shows that once he accepted the accuser's story, little else mattered --

Mike Nifong found out about the case that now threatens his career March 23, 2006, when he stopped by the office copier and found a court order demanding DNA samples from 46 Duke lacrosse players. An escort service dancer told police that three men at a team party had dragged her into a bathroom and raped her anally, vaginally and orally for 30 minutes, according to the order.

The Durham district attorney's reaction, he later told lawyer Jim Cooney: "Holy crap, what is going on?"

The next day, Nifong told Durham police he was taking over. At 9 a.m. March 24, a police captain told the senior investigator, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, that "Nifong was going to be running and prosecuting this case. ... Go through Mr. Nifong for any directions as to how to conduct matters in this case."

It was an unusual move for a prosecutor, but there's no evidence that the police challenged him. The case, however, was already in trouble.

The 27-year-old complainant, Crystal Gail Mangum, couldn't identify her alleged attackers. She had given at least six conflicting accounts. And the first officer who encountered her didn't believe her story...
--------
Joe Neff - News & Observer reporterNews & Observer:
Joe Neff, The Reporter and the research -- This series was led by reporter Joseph Neff, 47, a veteran investigative reporter who has reported extensively on criminal justice.

Neff, who holds degrees from Northwestern and Columbia universities, came to The N&O in 1992 and has covered prisons, police, courts and the legislature...

Neff has been involved in The N&O's coverage of the Duke lacrosse case since it began. His previous reports have pointed out weaknesses in the prosecution's case. For this story, he spent months examining thousands of documents and conducting dozens of interviews.

Source Notes --
This report was based on information from these sources:

Nifong at the copier: interviews with Jim Cooney and Assistant District Attorney David Saacks

Nifong takes over: case report of Sgt. Mark Gottlieb dated March 24, 2006

'I think she is lying': Account of Duke police officer Sara Beth Falcon in case notes of Investigator Benjamin Himan.

Refused to discuss the case with defense lawyers: interviews with Wade Smith, Joseph B. Cheshire V, James D. "Butch" Williams Jr., Bill Cotter, Bill Thomas, Bob Ekstrand, Kirk Osborn, Kerry Sutton, Julian Mack and Cooney

Linwood Wilson: interviews with Moezeldin Elmostafa, H.P. Thomas, affidavit of Yolanda Hayes, Wilson's notes.

No evidence Mangum challenged: prosecution case file...

Key characters -- Jim Cooney, Jackie Brown, & Bob Ekstrand.

discussion:
LieStoppers forum: Joe Neff's Five-Part Series in News & Observer, "Nifong's 'Rush to Judgment'"
FreeRepublic: Quest to convict hid a lack of evidence (The Fong's Obituary)
TalkLeft: Quest to convict hid a lack of evidence
--------
Melanie Sill, Editor's blog, News & Observer:
A couple of thoughts today on lacrosse coverage -- Recent comments on our Duke lacrosse coverage echo a theme we've heard occasionally from blog-readers over the past year -- that The N&O was doing nothing more than reporting what bloggers had already "exposed."

The reality is that from the beginning -- or especially at the beginning -- this case was awash in speculation. We heard all kinds of rumors and tips, but we don't publish unattributed rumor and we almost never quote unidentified sources. Much of this gossip went right up on blog posts, but we used such leads and rumors as initial information that had to be fleshed out on the record or through independent verification.

In other words it's one thing to say it. It's another to be accountable for publishing it. The N&O's standards for publishing are the same online as for print. Some of the rumors turned out to be credible; many didn't.

Joe Neff's source notes on the series running currently illustrate one way we share with readers how we know the things we report. Traditional attribution is another method...

related:
Melanie Sill, Editor's blog: Why we're naming the accuser

NPR.org: Raleigh Paper Publishes Duke Accuser's Name [audio] -- Even after the prosecutor dropped the charges against the students, most media have continued to withhold her name.

One exception is The News & Observer in Raleigh. Melanie Sill, the newspaper's executive editor, speaks with Scott Simon about how and why her staff chose to publish the accuser's name...

discussion:
LS forum: NPR Policy, outlets refusing to use Crystal's name
LS forum: Melanie Sill on NPR

comment: The problem with the N&O was their promotion of the hoax before Joe Neff started covering it. And their refusal to use their editorials to condemn the prosecutorial misconduct and abuse that Mr. Neff was reporting.
-------
Andrea Weigl, McClatchy/Ledger-Enquirer:
North Carolina attorney general to appear on `60 Minutes' -- During the question-and-answer session {with AG Cooper], Joseph Neff, a reporter with The News & Observer, asked about the accuser, Crystal Gail Mangum: "Has she ever told the same story twice?"

"She's told many stories," Cooper said. "Some of the things are consistent within those stories. But there were many stories that were told. We're going to release a lot of this specific information next week."

In response to requests Friday from The News & Observer, Talley did release some information shared with "60 Minutes" about three of Mangum's inconsistent statements: Seligmann was involved in the alleged attack, Magnum was held in the air during the attack and afterward Seligmann and Evans threw her on the back porch and all three kicked her in the neck. None of the statements was found to be true.

discussion:
TalkLeft: What the Accuser Said About Seligman
-------
John in Carolina:
--------
Forum topics of note:
LS: A Prayer from the Dying., I got one last shot at this. -- svolich -- As some of you know, I'm old, and I'm dying...When the Duke case is all over, when all the lawsuits are done and paid, with the boys are successful with families and children of their own, there will still be police and prosecutorial misconduct...

I can't tell you how to keep fighting. Maybe the Innocence Project is a place to start. Exonerating people on death row - there has to be a few...

LS: Color Me Cynical On Cooper's Report, Fixate On Nifong, To Whitewash Others? -- I think Cooper punted the matter of criminal wrongdoing to the Bar

LS: Blog and Media Roundup, Saturday 04/14/07
CourtTV: Their Credibility has been restored...
-------
Michael Gaynor:
Duke case: Support for prosecuting the rogue prosecutor -- In the Duke case, Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans were victims of Mr. Nifong's lack of integrity and perceived dependency on black votes to win an election. Professor Kennedy is right about the scholar-athletes' due process rights being violated, but there is more to it: they were victimized because false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum is black and they are white and Mr. Nifong chose to play the race card at the expense of the white guys.

If Mr. Nifong's behavior is not treated as criminal, what message will that send?
-------
KC Johnson:
The Nifong Preliminary Hearing -- Yesterday’s Disciplinary Hearings Commission hearing gave Mike Nifong’s attorneys an attempt to practice some of their arguments for the June ethics trial. Based on what I saw, they have a lot of work to do between now and then to salvage the DA’s law license. Some impressions of yesterday’s events:

1.) Nifong’s lead attorney, Dudley Witt, needs to return to the drawing board...
-------
Paul Cuadros, Time:
At Duke, the Case of the "Rogue D.A." -- The Duke lacrosse rape case ended the way it began, with anger, bitterness and recriminations of wrongdoing that cast a cloud on whether the justice system can function fairly in our society. But this time, the emotions were directed at one man, instead of three college athletes.

With ethics accusations swirling around District Attorney Michael Nifong, the prosecutor — and his controversial rape case — may not continue much longer
Were Duke Players Victims of an E-Mail Sting?

As a grand jury gets set to weigh possible rape charges against Duke lacrosse players, defense lawyers claim law enforcement may have used a phony e-mail to set up their clients

That one person, Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, was nowhere to be seen at the two press conferences on Wednesday that attracted national media and celebrity journalists. The rainy day in North Carolina started out badly for Nifong, who removed himself from the case in January, and then it got worse...
discussion:
LS forum: Does TIME Know Something That We Don't? -- The Time story is lame compared to what Newsweek did...
--------
On the Record w/ Greta, FoxNews:
Nifong's Attorney Responds to Critics [transcript]--

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. I want to talk to you about the statement [Nifong apology]. First of all, did you — did you work with him on the statement, or is this something that he did himself?

DAVID FREEDMAN [Nifong attorney]: This is something — I was aware of it before it was released, but this was written by Mr. Nifong.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here's the problem I have with it. You know, it supposedly, you know, it seems to be an apology. But I'm not sure, David, that he really gets it...
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