Local News

Concern Grows Over Planned Rally On Duke Campus

Posted April 28, 2006
Updated January 7, 2007

— The Duke lacrosse investigation has sparked both peaceful prayer vigils and angry protests. Now, concern is brewing over a planned rally near Duke's west campus.

The rally is sponsored by the New Black Panther party, a group of anti-Semites. Late Friday evening, Duke University President Richard Brodhead released a statement, saying that the rally will be tightly monitored by Duke and Durham police to prevent disruption on the campus. He also said he was assured by organizers that they intend to peacefully assemble off campus and will not carry guns.

North Carolina Central Chancellor James Ammons also expressed concern about the rally Friday, saying he objects to groups dividing the community.

As officers prepare for the rally, District Attorney Mike Nifong and defense attorneys are dealing with new information about the woman at the center of the case. Long before an exotic dancer said she was raped by three Duke lacrosse players in an off-campus house, she made a similar claim in Creedmoor.

As Creedmoor officials talked about the 1996 rape complaint, the accuser's mother insisted the previous rape -- which was never prosecuted -- did happen. Also, a rape shield law in effect in North Carolina may prevent the previous allegation from ever being mentioned by a jury in the Duke case.

Friday morning, Creedmoor Mayor Darryl D. Moss and Chief Ted Pollard went over details that were in the police report that was filed by the accuser following an alleged rape in 1993.

They did not say why the complaint, which was about an alleged rape by three men when the accuser was 14 years old, was not explored further. They said that they were not sure if it was because the accuser did not pursue the case.

Meanwhile Friday morning, WRAL talked to the accuser's mother, who insisted that the rape did happen. The mother, who WRAL does not identify because it would reveal the accuser's identity, said that the rape was committed by her daughter's ex-boyfriend and two of his friends and that her daughter did not pursue charges because the suspect threatened to kill her.

The accuser was asked by police in 1996 to write and submit a chronological version of the events, but police could not say if it was ever submitted. It was not found in a search of police records, Pollard said.

"If the accuser did not pursue the case, that is the end of it," said Pollard, who added that he did not know if that was the case.

Moss said that the city was planning to meet with Granville County District Attorney Sam Currin to find out if he has any records about the case. Moss said that Nifong called Creedmoor police Friday morning, but they had not talked about the report before the news conference.

Reached by WRAL after the news conference, Nifong said that he was not planning on dropping the case against the two Duke lacrosse players charged with rape. Nifong also said that a jury in the Duke case might not hear about the 1996 police report.

A phone number for the accuser has been disconnected and her family declined to comment to The Associated Press. But relatives told Essence magazine in an online story this week that the woman declined to pursue the case out of fear for her safety.

Nifong said Friday the family's decision not to pursue the case back then isn't an isolated one. He said he's heard from five women, two of whom were Duke students, who chose not to report an alleged rape.

“The common thread in these five situations is that each of these women believed the cost of public scorn she would receive out weighed the benefits to herself and society for the pursuit of justice,” said Nifong.

The existence of the report surprised defense attorneys, one of whom has sought information about the accuser's past for use in attacking her credibility.

Bill Cotter, the attorney for indicted lacrosse player Collin Finnerty, who, along with fellow Duke sophomore Reade Seligmann, is charged with first-degree rape, kidnapping and sexual assault, did not comment on the previous police report.

Attorneys for Seligmann asked the court this week to order the state to turn over the accuser's medical, legal and education records, and hold a pretrial hearing to "determine if the complaining witness is even credible enough to provide reliable testimony."

The accuser, a 27-year-old student at North Carolina Central University in Durham, told police she was hired to perform as a stripper at a March 13 party, where she was raped by three men.

According to the Creedmoor police report in August 1996, when the woman was 18, she told officers she was raped and beaten by three men "for a continual time" in 1993, when she was 14. She told police she was attacked at an "unspecified location" on a street in Creedmoor, a town 15 miles northeast of Durham.

The report lists the names of the three men, but no other details. Pollard said Thursday he had no recollection of the report, and his staff has been unable to find any additional information about it.

Durham police Officer Brian Bishop, who interviewed the accuser in 1996 while working on the Creedmoor force, said Thursday he had a vague recollection of the report but couldn't remember any details.

Before Seligmann and Finnerty were indicted, attorneys for the players pointed to the accuser's criminal history when answering questions about their clients' legal troubles. The woman pleaded guilty to several misdemeanors in 2002.


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