Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Story of the Day - Duke lacrosse sex case

Reports: Duke lacrosse sex case to be dropped
State attorney general to make decision shortly in year-old investigation.

ABC Nightline Duke Case Dismissed

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Accused Lacrosse Players Talk: CBS News

Ed Bradley RIP

Tour of Things That Didn't Happen in Durham

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RALEIGH, N.C. - Prosecutors have decided to drop all charges against three Duke lacrosse players accused of sexual assaulting a stripper at a team party, a person close to the case told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The North Carolina Attorney General’s office, which took over the case in January after the local district attorney was accused of ethics violations, said it would have an announcement on the case at 2:30 p.m.

Prosecutors did not say what the announcement would be.

Timeline in Duke lacrosse investigation
Duke lacrosse sex case

A chronology of events surrounding allegations members of Duke's lacrosse team raped an exotic dancer hired to perform at a team party:

March 13, 2006 _ Duke lacrosse players throw a team party at an off-campus house, hiring two strippers to perform.

March 14 _ One of the dancers tells Durham police three men at the party forced her into a bathroom, where she said she was beaten, raped and sodomized. It is later learned she told authorities several different versions of the alleged attack in the hours after the party.

March 23 _ Forty-six of the team's 47 members comply with a judge's order to provide DNA samples and be photographed. The team's sole black member is not tested, because the victim said her attackers were white.

March 25 _ School announces lacrosse team will not play two scheduled games, citing the team's decision to hire "private party dancers" and underage drinking at the party.

March 28 _ Duke suspends lacrosse team from play until it has a "clearer resolution of the legal situation" involving team members.

March 29 _ In an interview with the News & Observer of Raleigh, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong calls the members of the lacrosse team "a bunch of hooligans."

April 3 _ Nifong stops granting interviews about the case.

April 4 _ The accuser identifies her attackers in a photo lineup suggested by Nifong that included pictures only of team members. The defense later called the lineup "an incoherent mass of contradiction and error."

April 5 _ Lacrosse coach Mike Pressler resigns. Duke President Richard Brodhead cancels the team's season after authorities unseal a search warrant containing an e-mail from player Ryan McFadyen in which he says he wants to kill and skin strippers. McFadyen is suspended from school. He later says the e-mail was a joke.

April 6 _ The accuser provides investigators with a five-page, handwritten statement detailing the alleged attack.

April 10 _ Defense attorneys announce DNA test results find no match between the players tested and the woman accusing the players of rape.

April 11 _ Nifong says he will continue investigating the rape allegations.

April 17 _ A Durham County grand jury returns sealed indictments against two Duke lacrosse players.

April 18 _ Duke lacrosse players Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty are taken into custody on charges of rape, sexual offense and kidnapping. Each is released after posting bond. Nifong says authorities are continuing to try to identify a third possible assailant.

April 25 _ Granville County authorities confirm the accuser told police 10 years ago she was raped by three men when she was 14. None of the men were charged.

May 1 _ A Duke University committee recommends the school's lacrosse team resume play next season, but adds the team needs strict monitoring because of a history of problems tied to alcohol.

May 2 _ Nifong fends off two challengers to win the Democratic primary for district attorney.

May 8 _ A university report concludes Duke administrators were slow to react to the scandal in part because of initial doubts about the accuser's credibility.

May 12 _ Defense attorneys say a second round of DNA testing finds no conclusive match between the accuser and any lacrosse players.

May 15 _ A grand jury indicts lacrosse team co-captain David Evans. Evans speaks publicly before surrendering to police, saying, "You have all been told some fantastic lies, and I look forward to watching them unravel in the weeks to come."

June 5 _ Duke's president reinstates the men's lacrosse program for play in 2007, but under strict rules and close monitoring.

June 29 _ McFadyen, an unindicted player, is reinstated at Duke following his suspension for sending the vulgar e-mail about killing strippers.

July 21 _ Duke hires John Danowski from Hofstra to coach the lacrosse team. His son, Matt, is a Duke senior and All-American attackman for the Blue Devils.

Sept. 4 _ The lacrosse team returns to practice for the first time since March 27, 2006.

Oct. 31 _ Nifong insists in an interview with The Associated Press that he and police have not mishandled the case and said his only regret was granting so many interviews early on.

Nov. 7 _ Nifong is elected to a four-year term as district attorney, beating out a write-in candidate and an unaffiliated candidate who did not actively campaign.

Dec. 15 _ The director of a private DNA lab testifies that, as part of an agreement with Nifong, he omitted from a May report that no genetic material from any member of the lacrosse team was among that of several males found in the accuser's underwear and body.

Dec. 21 _ An investigator in Nifong's office interviews the accuser, during which she changes several key details of her account.

Dec. 22 _ Nifong drops rape charges against the three players, citing the accuser's statement from the day before in which she said she was no longer certain whether she was penetrated vaginally by a penis, a necessary element of rape charges in North Carolina. The players remain charged with kidnapping and sexual offense.

Dec. 28 _ The North Carolina State Bar files ethics charges against Nifong, accusing him of making misleading and inflammatory comments to the media about the athletes under suspicion.

Jan. 2, 2007 _ Nifong is sworn into office in a private ceremony.

Jan. 3 _ Duke invites Seligmann and Finnerty to return to school as students in good standing, saying the circumstances in the case have changed. The accuser gives birth to a girl at a hospital in Chapel Hill.

Jan. 4 _ Former Duke player Kyle Dowd and his parents sue the university, alleging that one of his professors unfairly gave him a failing grade because he was a member of the team.

Jan. 10 _ The judge overseeing the case orders a paternity test to determine the father of the accuser's child. Nifong and the defense agree the pregnancy is unrelated to the team party, but both sides agreed the test should be conducted to silence any doubts.

Jan. 11 _ Citing a prosecution report, the defense says in court papers the accuser told investigators during the Dec. 21 interview that Seligmann did not commit any sex act on her during the alleged attack, but was repeatedly urged to join in.

Jan. 12 _ Nifong asks the state attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor in the case, saying he worries the pending ethics charges against him might result in an unfair trial.

Jan. 13 _ State Attorney General Roy Cooper agrees to take over the case. "Agreeing to accept the prosecution of these cases doesn't guarantee a trial, nor does it guarantee a dismissal," Cooper said.

Jan. 24 _ The state bar amends its ethics complaint against Nifong, accusing him of withholding evidence from the defense and lying to both to the court and bar investigators.

Feb. 24 _ Duke beats Dartmouth 17-11 in its first men's lacrosse game in 11 months.

Feb. 28 _ In his response to the state bar's complaint, Nifong says he did not intentionally break ethics rules.

March 13 _ The anniversary of team party passes uneventfully in Durham and on campus.

March 15 _ With investigators, Cooper tours the house where the lacrosse team threw the party.

March 21 _ The state bar sets a June 12 trial date for ethics charges against Nifong.

March 25 _ Kirk Osborn, an attorney for Reade Seligmann, dies of a heart attack at age 64.

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