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Friday, December 22, 2006

Duke Hoax: Nifong Drops Rape Charges

David Evans, Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann, and Crystal Gail Mangum
updated 4:57 pm
Joe Neff, News & Observer (12:37 pm):

Nifong drops some charges — Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong dismissed part of the rape case against three former Duke University lacrosse players today after the accuser told detectives she wasn’t certain about a critical detail of the alleged attack.

Nifong dropped the charge of first-degree forcible rape against David Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md.; Collin Finnerty, 20, of Garden City, N.Y.; and Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J. All maintain their innocence.

The three are still charged with first-degree sexual offense and first-degree kidnapping.

Nifong dropped the charges at 11:37 a.m.

According to the dismissal form, investigator Linwood Wilson interviewed the accuser on Thursday. Key paragraph from dismissal form:
In an interview with DA Investigator Linwood Wilson on December 21, 2006, the victim in this case indicated that, while she initally believed that she had been vaginally penetrated by a male sex organ (penis), she can not at this time testify with certainly that a penis was the body part that penetrated her vagina. Since penetration of the vagina by a penis is one of the elements of this offense that the State must prove beyond a responable doubt, and since there is no scientific or other evidence independent of the victim's testimony that would corroborate specifically penetration by a penis, the State is unable to meet its burden of proof with respect to this offense.

The Smoking Gun: Dismissal Notice

or N&O Court Document: Dismissal Notice of Reinstatement (.pdf) - filed 11:37 am, Dec. 22, 2006

WRAL: Rape Charges Dropped in Duke Lacrosse Case
FoxNews: Defense Attorney Says Prosecutors Have Dismissed Rape Charges Against 3 Duke Lacrosse Players

Aaron Beard (AP): Rape Charges Dropped in Duke Case — "It's highly coincidental," said defense attorney Joseph Cheshire, that the charges are being dropped a week after the director of a private DNA testing lab acknowledged that he initially, with Nifong's knowledge, withheld from the defense test results showing none of the players' DNA was found on or in the accuser's body.
Duke Univ. President Richard Brodhead:
Statement from Duke President Brodhead Regarding Dropping of Rape Charges
“I am greatly relieved for the students and their families that the most serious of the charges has been dropped. Given the certainty with which the district attorney made his many public statements regarding the rape allegation, his decision today to drop that charge must call into question the validity of the remaining charges.

“The district attorney should now put this case in the hands of an independent party, who can restore confidence in the fairness of the process. Further, Mr. Nifong has an obligation to explain to all of us his conduct in this matter.”
related: KC Johnson - Brodhead, Finally
Blog reactions:
LieStoppers: Rape Charges Dismissed, Nifong Presses On (see comments) — While it certainly is good news and cause for celebration to see the most serious charges dropped, this latest shameless legal maneuvering is quite frightening. Rather than do the right thing now that his misconduct has been outed, the District Attorney appears intent on pursuing his persecution with continued disregard for truth, justice, ethics, and reality. Who will stop this monster?

KC Johnson: The Beginning of the End (see comments) — There is absolutely no justification for any continued allegations against any of the players; I suspect this is the beginning of the end for the case against them--and the beginning of the ethical and perhaps legal case against Nifong.

La Shawn Barber: DUKE RAPE CHARGES DROPPED! (see comments) — Merry Christmas!

Betsy Newmark: Nifong drops rape charges against the three lacrosse players — I don't see what Nifong gains by maintaining the charges of kidnapping and sexual assault...

Michelle Malkin: Duke rape charges dropped

Mary Katharine Ham (Durham native): Charges dropped — "It's about damn time."
Comment: Sexual Assault (oral and anal) charges are easier to prove than rape. Rape is only penis penetration of the vagina under North Carolina law.

LieStoppers: Implications of Dropping The Rape Charges, A distinction without a difference?
LieStoppers: Nifong's plan, more dangerous than ever - This is not over!

TalkLeft: Wendy Murphy comments on the rape charges being dropped

Initial announcement reaction:

LieStoppers (12:11 pm): Nifong to dismiss forcible rape charges, Julia Lewis
TalkLeft (12:19 pm): Nifong dismissing forcible rape charges — Just heard live from Julia Lewis. He is keeping the SA and kidnap charges, apparently.
FreeRepublic (12:15 pm): Nifong Filing to Dismiss Rape Charges
CourtTV: Charges being dropped
ABC11 TV/WTVD: Nifong has dropped rape charges
It has been 248 days since Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were falsely arrested on April 18, 2006.

TJN Archives (March 18, 2006 to Present - 310+ articles) — Duke Lacrosse Case