Local News

'60 Minutes' Segment Revisits Concerns About DA, Rape Case

Posted October 16, 2006
Updated January 7, 2007

— Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong said Monday he did not watch a "60 Minutes" report featuring three former Duke University lacrosse players that he is now prosecuting.

"It would be hard to comment on something that I hadn't seen," said Nifong at a news conference concerning an unrelated investigation.

In the segment, which aired Sunday on CBS, Nifong came under fire by Duke University Law School Professor James Coleman for how he has handled the high-profile rape investigation.

Coleman told CBS that Nifong had committed "prosecutorial misconduct," citing a controversial series of photo lineups with only lacrosse players in which the alleged victim identified David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann as her attackers. All three men maintain their innocence.

"He had to know that was inappropriate," Coleman told WRAL Monday. "He bears the responsibility for the consequences of that."

Coleman headed a Duke committee that looked into the behavior of the lacrosse team and also, earlier in his career, helped establish state standards for lineup procedures. Those lineups, which Nifong approved, were a violation of police policy, Coleman has said.

Coleman also describes the case as "out of control," and has also criticized Nifong for the way he handled the case in the days before charges were first filed in April.

"I think that's the problem with the case. A lot of people, including the prosecutor, got ahead of themselves in the beginning," Coleman said.

Early in the investigation, Nifong granted a number of interviews in which he stated that he believed a rape did occur. Within the past several months, however, he has said that he regrets doing some of those interviews.

He has since remained quiet, saying little about the investigation. Durham police have also said very little and refused to comment on Monday about two of the suspects' comments in Sunday's interview that they were never interviewed by investigators.

Coleman said he believes a special prosecutor should be appointed to the case. He also questions whether Nifong has a case at all.

"It's hard to know what evidence he could have beyond what's basically part of the public record now," he said.

Police files, witness statements and medical records have all been turned over to defense attorneys. Some of that information has been leaked to the media.

That is where former Craven County District Attorney David McFadyen says looks can be deceiving.

"The attorneys on both sides know what the facts are," McFadyen said. "We're hearing them in bits and pieces."

McFadyen said that although this case does raise many questions, it's still unlikely that the public has heard all the evidence.

"This is going to be a case where eventually it will be resolved in a court of law, where it should be resolved."

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