Local News

Nifong Probe Possible, U.S. Attorney General Says

Posted December 17, 2006

— The United States Attorney General suggested Sunday that his office might investigate the way District Attorney Mike Nifong has handled the Duke lacrosse rape case.

In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales confirmed he received a letter asking for a federal probe into the investigation, in which an exotic dancer claims three lacrosse players raped her at a March 13 party.

"Well, that is a letter that we recently received," Gonzales told Fox News' Brian Wilson. "It's being evaluated at the (Department of Justice). I can't say anything -- anything beyond that."

Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-North Carolina, sent Gonzales the letter last week asking for a federal investigation into possible prosecutorial misconduct, and specifically, to determine whether the defendants' civil rights were violated.

"I was offended by the way (Nifong) has handled this case," Jones told WRAL last week. "I think he has been out of control."

Gonzales said that even though the case is a state and local matter, the federal government could still become involved "if an investigation is conducted in such a way that civil rights laws are violated, that would be something that we might look into," Gonzales said.

Last week, defense attorneys also filed several motions in the case. One, criticizing the way DNA evidence was revealed, indicated that no DNA from any of the defendants was found on the accuser's body but that there were numerous male matches.

"There was no attempt to hide anything from the way the report was done," Nifong told reporters on Friday. "If anything, we were trying to be fair to all the people who were not going to be involved in this case."

Other motions asked that a photographic lineup be dismissed as evidence, because it was slanted. A third motion asked for a change of venue, saying that Nifong has polarized the local community with comments he made during the initial stages of the investigation.

All three men charged in the case – David Evans, 23, Collin Finnerty, 20, and Reade Seligmann, 20 -- have maintained their innocence from the beginning.

The next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 5 when defense attorneys are expected to ask Judge Osmond Smith to throw out the photo identification lineup.

The accuser in this case is also expected to be in court.
22 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • geowilrlst Dec 20, 1:04 a.m.

    This is funny ; the "voters" recall this Idiot ?

    Just look at who makes up the majority of the Durham voters !

    DUH !

  • Crystal Dec 18, 5:53 p.m.

    I believe that this trial must go forward and should not be dismissed so there are no remaining questions as to the defendants innocence. I believe that for their sakes and reputations that this case must go to trial. I think that if allowed to be dismissed that the people that truely believe that they are guilty will still believe that and won't have been proven wrong in their beliefs.

  • kahamom Dec 18, 3:08 p.m.

    Maybe it is time that Nifong is removed from office by a recall petition- The voters need to fire him!

  • ghwhitaker1_old Dec 18, 3:01 p.m.

    Every prosecutor who has been around for more than 10 minutes knows of their obligation to turn over exculpatory material to the defense. Exculpatory material includes material which has any tendency to show either that a crime was not committed, or that someone other than the defendant(s) committed the crime. DNA material from multiple other men found inside the alleged victim's body is exculpatory under any reasonable definition of the word. For Nifong and the lab director to agree (conspire) to omit such information from the lab's final report, which without question will be an evidence exhibit in any trial, borders on obstruction of justice. But, alas, considering the N.C. State Bar's handling of the Hoke/Graves cheating episode in Bertie County, and the Honeycutt/Parker cheating episode in Union County, and with Attorney General Roy Cooper all tied up with the Tennessee pollution case, Nifong shouldn't worry too much about adverse consequences.

  • thomasbrewer Dec 18, 2:01 p.m.

    With all the other crime going on in this country why is so much attention being paid to this one case, is it because it a black woman accusing rich white men or do you think their is some injustice going on because there are plenty of innocent men and women in America jails and I don't see this much talk about them. No DA wins every case so let this on play out.

  • whocares Dec 18, 1:18 p.m.

    The whole case should be dismissed and Mike Nifong made to make a public appology (national would be best since the whole nation knows about this case because of his "big mouth") to the gentlemen in question and their families, the team, the university, and especially to the community.

  • lgbailey9002 Dec 18, 12:45 p.m.

    A clear case of politics run amuck. Case should be droped and Nifung be required to pay all attorneys fees and resign.

  • KevinUNC97 Dec 18, 12:43 p.m.

    It seems so interesting that so many people are so vehement on dropping the case. If you guys are such champions of justice, where were you when Kobe Bryant's accuser made OBVIOUS false allegations? I really never recalled that Colorado District Attorney being publicly persecuted like you guys are doing to Nifong.
    I don't personally believe that the case should continue, but it is sickening to see people pretend that they are protesting this in the name of justice, when in fact their protest has everything to do with race and class. I pray for you people!

    -KS

  • AuntySocial Dec 18, 12:29 p.m.

    What does Nifong think all this deception will get him -- Book deals? A Lifetime original movie? Vincent Bugliosi he is not. Drop the charges, let those boys try to rebuild their lives, and give Nifong what he deserves. Disbarment and public ridicule.

  • kmanc4s Dec 18, 11:35 a.m.

    The DNA evidence shows no match to the defendents, but does show evidence of multiple males found on her. The accusor has stated that no condom was used and the presence of "Male Genetic Material" on her underwear and elsewhere would support her statement. Then whose DNA was found? As I remember, the police took DNA samples from the entire Duke Lacrosse team. By not arresting other Lacrosse players whose DNA evidence they have, that leads me to believe she didn't have sex with anyone at the party or they would have found a match. The DNA evidence would have pointed to the guilty parties, correct? If she was gang raped at the party and they have evidence that multiple men had sex with her, then arrest them don't protect them. However, it seems it was no one at the party or they would be under arrest.

    Who is Nifong protecting by the partial release of the DNA lab report?

    Anyone willing to guess who? Mike Nifong!

More...