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No DNA Match In Duke Lacrosse Scandal, DA Proceeding Anyway

Last week the member of the Duke University lacrosse program were presumed to be guilty of gang rape of a stripper. This week it's looking like a much more complex story.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong said he plans to move forward with his case against three members of Duke University's men's lacrosse team despite DNA results that do not match evidence collected from a woman who says the athletes raped her.


"I intend on doing exactly what I've been doing the whole time," Nifong told a CBS News reporter Monday night who asked if he intended to move forward with the case. "If that's what you define as moving forward, then yes."

The State Bureau of Investigation delivered the long-awaited DNA results to Nifong Monday afternoon. Less than two hours later, Raleigh defense attorney Wade Smith, after reviewing the results, said he hoped Nifong would consider dropping the case.

"No DNA material from any young man tested was present on the body of this complaining woman, not present within her body, not present on the surface of her body and not present on any of her belongings," Smith said in a prepared statement.

The alleged victim told Durham police that on the night of March 13, she was gang-raped, beaten and sodomized for 30 minutes.

No one has been charged yet in connection with the rape allegations, but Nifong has said previously that charges could come this week, despite what DNA test results reveal.

Here's how TalkLeft's Jeralyn Merritt sums up the developments in the case:

They say the findings show there is no evidence that any sexual activity occurred in that house on that night. If you re-read what she said happened, it is an impossibility. Not to mention, the defense say they have photos showing she had injuries when she arrived. Even more, the defense says they have interviewed the other dancer who said the accuser never mentioned being raped to her.

The accusers story is falling apart not because of her race or gender, but because the supposed facts of her story are crumbling. District Attorney Nifong is up for re-election and is between a rock and a hard place. If he files charges it now appears that the case will continue to implode, and if he doesn't file charges he'll be vilified by those already convinced of the guilt of the, as yet, unidentified Duke athletes. If he catches a break the defendants story will continue crumbling until it resembles Tawana Brawley's and he can be done with it - or file charges against her...


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Comments (22)

So are they gonna implant a... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

So are they gonna implant a tracking chip in Skinner Boy? And hiring a shopworn Negress to undress instead of playing in the field of coeds is yet another nail in the coffin of Darwin's theory, PLUS another abuse of the taxpayers' money via the student loan program,i.e. Should these people be fast-tracked in an upwards direction?

It appears as though the Al... (Below threshold)
Eneils Bailey:

It appears as though the Al Sharpton technique for racial harmony has failed again.
One news commentator suggested DA Nifong may have been out on a political move since he is up for re-election this year.
The case against the lacrosse team now looks very weak. It they did the deed, they should go to court. If this is a false accustion, she should go to court and then call Cynthia McKinney to perfect their next moves.

There is no way there is go... (Below threshold)
just me:

There is no way there is going to be a conviction at this point.

If I was a juror I would have a hard time believing that several guys could gang rape a woman, and there be no DNA evidence from any of them anywhere on her.

She may have been raped, but it sounds like the LaCrosse team doesn't have the rapist.

This reminds me of the fing... (Below threshold)

This reminds me of the finger in the chili thing, maybe there really was a finger in it but it didn't come from anyone accused of putting it there.

As usual, the story failed ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

As usual, the story failed to say if any semen or other DNA evidence was found. If so and it doesn't belong to any of the accused then game over. I no DNA evidence was found period, then while the case is weakened, it's not over yet. That's because the legal definition of rape doesn't require any part of the perpetrator's body to come in contact with the victim's body. Any non-consensual penetration of the victim by any body part or inanimate object is rape in the eyes of the law, at least in many states.

Mac Lorry, while that may b... (Below threshold)
Gizmo:

Mac Lorry, while that may be legally correct, getting a jury to buy that is another matter. The woman's story is starting to take on the form of Swiss cheese. It'll be up an uphill battle for the DA to try and get a jury to simply isolate probable fictions from the facts in the woman's story and convict any defendant(s).

I'm no legal expert but is ... (Below threshold)
Brook:

I'm no legal expert but is there any way, after the charges are dropped, and they very well should be, that the alleged 'victim' could be prosecuted for a hate crime? If what we know now holds to be true, that no lacrosse player was involved in any sexual crime, this appears to be a racially motivated accusation of rape, which seems pretty hateful. Just wondering.

Gizmo,I would hope... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Gizmo,

I would hope you are correct about no jury returning a guilty verdict, but unfortunately few juniors are aware that they have any discretion when deliberating. Judges and prosecutors work hard to box in the jury so that they feel they must return a guilty verdict on the basis of a technical reading of the law and a narrow set of facts. If they only knew how much power they really had through jury nullification. The unreviewable and irreversible power to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge and the facts of the case.

If you ever find yourself called to jury duty and you don't want to be selected there's no need to lie or give a lame excuse, just tell whoever is asking questions that you are fully aware of your rights as a juror including nullification. They'll get you out of there fast as they can before you pollute (inform) others in the pool.

Of course if you want to sit on the jury you can't let on that you know much about anything.

MacLorryLegally th... (Below threshold)

MacLorry

Legally there must be penetration to file a charge of rape. The accuser has said in statements to the police she was raped and sodomized for 30 minutes by three white males. She also said she struggled, including scratching her attackers.

Nifong at this point isn't disputing the statements from the group of defense attorney who reviewed the court-ordered tests.

NO DNA evidence that would link any of the players was found on/in or around the woman. That includes her fingernails. No lab evidence of even sex via condom (no latex, no lubricant, no spermicide).

It is implausible that there would be NO DNA transfer to the woman in the scenario she described.

Her story has collapsed and Nifong, who hasn't filed charges yet, seems to be trying to salvage a political career with equivocating statements about 'it's not over yet'.

Mac Lorry, actually I'm due... (Below threshold)
Gizmo:

Mac Lorry, actually I'm due to report on May 2nd. My point was that in many people's minds, once parts of someone's story has been demonstrated to be pure fiction that causes them to discount the rest of their statements. If I walked into a police station and said that I'd just been mugged I'd no doubt be taken with complete seriousness. If I then added that it was a green space alien with an Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator most people would be inclined to view my claims of having my wallet stolen in a new light. Perhaps I had been mugged by a common thug but my added fictions would no doubt hurt my chances of seeking justice.

Absent any hard supporting evidence, I think the DA would be holding a weak hand on this one. Given the possible Defendants' turn of good fortune in the last two days, I think it's unlikely that any of the team members will try and cop a deal and turn state's evidence. If this turns into a pure "She said, they said" case, I can't see a conviction on the more serious charges as likely.

darleen,I don't th... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

darleen,

I don't think we're in disagreement. You are correct in saying that "Legally there must be penetration to file a charge of rape.", but that penetration need not be by a body part. As I eluded to in my first post on this topic, a sex toy can be used to commit rape without leaving DNA evidence.

No lab evidence of even sex via condom (no latex, no lubricant, no spermicide).

That information wasn't in the story or the original Kevin linked to. However, I did find in the linked story that there is "an emergency-room nurse's findings that the woman had injuries, signs and symptoms consistent with rape." Part of what Kevin quoted says "the defense say they have photos showing she had injuries when she arrived." Now what was the purpose of taking photos of that part of a woman's anatomy and how do you prove they were taken before the alleged rape and not after?

Like I said in my first post, had there been DNA evidence, but not of the three suspects, then it would be a done deal for the defense. DNA has cleared many men where there was a rape, but by some other person. Why a women would insist one man is the guilty party when it's obvious it was some other man is a mystery, but not an uncommon one. As a result of the review of old cases where there's still DNA evidence, estimates are that a third of men convicted of rape are innocent of the crime they were connived of, yet there's no outcry against this injustice. Given that political reality, it could be the prosecutor knows just how easy it is to get a conviction even without corroborating evidence. These three men may need to prove they are innocent beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mac she was a stripper. Bu... (Below threshold)
just me:

Mac she was a stripper. But I suspect the injury is likely some kind of bruising on other portions of her body.

That said, as a juror, I have a hard time believing three guys could rape a woman for thirty minutes, and not leave any evidence of any kind on her body or her clothing.

Is it possible she was still raped? Sure, but her story isn't holding up to the evidence, and at some point the lack of evidence outweighs the she said portion of the he said/she said.

As a New Yorker, My questio... (Below threshold)
Don:

As a New Yorker, My question is a simple one. Is the woman's real name Tawana Brawlet? She left NY for a Southen state and changed her name. When I first heard about this story I felt here we go again, another BS story.

Why ask for DNA samples of ... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

Why ask for DNA samples of the LaCrosse team, if there was no evidence to check against.

She has sex with someone else. Which further undermines her story.

The real scandal and crime ... (Below threshold)
J.R.:

The real scandal and crime here is that the Duke Administration cancelled the lacrosse season. They essentially convicted the entire team based on the accusation of a single person.

Ask yourself, would the same administration do the same thing if this was the men's basketball team? Hell no, because b-ball generates money for the school and lacrosse doesn't. It's ashame really that these players are being presumed guilty by their own leaders, nice lesson to teach them.

This Nifong character must... (Below threshold)
virgo:

This Nifong character must have graduated from the Ronnie Earl school of hacks..

Reading the comments on thi... (Below threshold)
Lisa Russell:

Reading the comments on this blog really, really disheartens me. It seems that some people want to dismiss this violent assault as "just another bs story." The police report tells of the woman's 4 broken nails (broken off as she was being strangled) that were found in the house - consistent with her statement. Her make-up bag and cell phone were found in the house. Twenty dollar bills were found in the house, consistent with the woman's story that $400 were taken from her purse after the assault. She was hit, kicked and strangled. And from the email that was sent by the LaCrosse player, the woman may have been assaulted with other objects to avoid leaving dna.

I don't know what actually occurred - but this woman was definitely violated and assaulted. And it seems to be premeditated - as evidenced by one of the player's announcing during the woman's performance (prior to the rape) that he was going to "shove" a broomstick "up her..."

But some people would dismiss this as "just another bs story" rather than admit there was an overt racial problem from the very beginning of the entire ordeal: a predominantly white team contracts black female strippers to perform at a party on a Duke-owned property where it was against Duke's policy to even serve alcohol to under age students, let along pay for exotic dancers.

Secondly, just two hours after the alleged attack, one of the players sends a racially charged AND violent email suggesting that after "tonight's show" he had decided to have some "strippers over to Eden" (a different residence)

And it goes on. This is reprehensible. And I can't believe that it could so easily be dismissed as nothing. The email by itself evidences a very, very, racist, violent and deviant mind. This email comes from an honor student at Duke University, who comes from a priviledged family and will more than likely go on to lead a corporate entity, or partner in a law firm, or worst become involved in government...governing the very women (and their daughters) whom he speaks of in his email.

Lisa,Although I un... (Below threshold)
Diana:

Lisa,

Although I understand and even share some of your concerns, the jury is still out with this case. Is there a sense of entitlement on this Duke lacrosse team, well yes, apparently with some. Was the email offensive? Yes it was but it also was parodying a movie by a player obviously wanting to appear way cool to his teammates, he however was not indicted in this case ultimately.

I found the admission that there had been habitual problems with this team prior, in terms of judicial violations on campus, quite troubling. This means violating the honor code, something which should have been a red flag just within the classroom. The coach now released from his contract, obviously took none of this seriously, so moving to release him may have been the first godsend here.

If ultimately it is proven this stripper was raped, both indicted as well as any others participating and proven to have participated, should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. My concern is we do not know any or all of the evidence to date, so we do need to reserve complete judgment until we do.

I also find it ironic that of the four major ACC universities in this area, that only Duke is drawing this kind of fire, and has also drawn minority fire long before now. Something is wrong, Duke being private vs others like UNC being public, isn't enough to explain all of these events away.

Finnerty obviously has further issues, the incident he spurred at Georgetown in an assault on a football player is disturbing. Seligmann appears to be the cleaner of the two, plus a graduate of a 22K/year day school of prominence in NJ. Finnerty's father is a big wheel on wall street so your assumption of prospective careers for these two at least, does hold water.

Ultimately my hope is that the truth is achieved. Since the other stipper present that night has only begun to speak out in the last 24 hours, one would hope we are inching in that direction.

Most of all, I hope the actions of this lacrosse team do not further fuel racial unrest in Durham. As one minority individual from Durham stated on MSM last night, this case has awakened the feelings of inequity. The entire community matters, if Duke is contributing to those issues, they should ensure they do not in the future. How this case ends might well be the greatest predictor now of that future.

Ultimately unless care and concern are applied here and now by leadership in prosecution yet also Duke, the ripple effect of this case will far outweigh one victim.

Sure is an obvious bias in ... (Below threshold)
notwithyou:

Sure is an obvious bias in this thread. Need to talk to the sources and not have everything go through the defense attorney blender. The other dancer says the accuser was fine when she arrived and was beat up when she left. She wishes she had been more aware of what was going on. She is the one who was worried enough to take her along even though they came separate. She is also the one who called 911 and had a security guard call 911.

The accuser was drugged at the party, she was tested for a date rape drug, and date rape drugs were gound at the house. One of the accused is also charged with an eerily similar crime against another minority - a gay man randomly attacked by three men whilst they hurled homophobic epithets at him. Sound familiar??

Remember the DA's line, we are confident a crime occurred here. Drugging someone and beating them all by itself is a crime. Holding someone against their will is a crime. So lets start watching the real facts of this case shall we.

Interesting. The ... (Below threshold)
hey:

Interesting.

The word is also out that the DA has a few of the Lacrosse team members talking about what happened, behind the scenes. There is a saying that when there are multiple accused in a case that it is a footrace to the DA's office. Remember when Nifong was saying he was going to charge the whole team with a crime of aiding and abetting if they didn't come forward - notice he hasn't been saying that lately.

Actually this case is holding up quite well, and don't forget the girl herself didn't make the 911 call, others who saw her and were concerned did. That is not the MO of a fake rape claim.

They have money, her purse, her stuff at the house. Broken fingernails in the bathroom, a witness in the other dancer. A toxicology test that is probably showing drugging. Accused with histories of this kind of behavior.

That starts to get pretty good.

Nifong has no history of making charges without the necessary backing, another thing that is being said repeatedly.

Seligman and Finnerty are r... (Below threshold)
Doug:

Seligman and Finnerty are roommates. The plot thickens. Birds of a feather....

Coming fast now:Ne... (Below threshold)
notwithyou:

Coming fast now:

News outlets who have seen the photos are sying there is that you can NOT see obvious bruising.

The other stripper does NOT recall any bruises previous to the incident.

The dancer says the accuser was drugged with something and she observed her behavior change dramatically during their time at the house.

The accuser had been there too short a time to have gotten drunk

The drug reported in her system was GHB.

She left without her purse with $400 in it, without her cell phone, with only one shoe on. She was incoherent and had to be carried out by the other dancer. THIS IS consistent with GHB.

By the time the two dancers went where they could get help the accuser was passed out and had a death grip on the car's gearshift knob. Also consistent with GHB

The security guard reported that she did not smell of alcohol.

The trauma nurse reported substantial vaginal tearing and anal trauma, bruises on her neck consistent with the accuser having been choked.

There was evidence that she had blunt force trauma as if she had been hit with fists several times.

The nurse reported the accusers demeanor and mental state were consistent with having been raped.

And they have stayed silent about whether they found forensic evidence consistent with the use of condoms.

That is just what we have HEARD from the DA. Is it enough to convict?

I will say this is an awfully serious charge right now, something like 30-years if convicted. And a $400,000 bond is more than for second degree murder.

Nifong is also an individual with a stellar reputation. A defense attorney who says he has worked with Nifong on about a thousand cases says "Nifong is a level playing field, with Mike you always get a square deal".




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