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Ex-Duke Lacrosse Coach Speaks Out

Posted March 15, 2007
Updated March 16, 2007

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— Duke University's former men's lacrosse coach spoke out Thursday for the first time about allegations and the criminal investigation against three former players.

Mike Pressler, who resigned in the wake of the scandal in which a stripper said she was gang-raped at an off-campus lacrosse team party, said he has always believed the players -- David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann -- were innocent.

"The evidence is coming out, daily, if not weekly. The world is seeing things that we knew early on in March," Pressler said in an interview on the Fox News show "America's Newsroom with Bill Hemmer and Megyn Kelly," where he was promoting an upcoming book on the matter.

"We remained silent for that period of time because we believe in those two words -- the truth," Pressler said.

He also said that he made it a point to punish players whenever they stepped out of line, but the party was not one of those circumstances.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and two special prosecutors handling the case, were seen Thursday at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., where the lacrosse party took place.

The Attorney General's Office took over the case in January after Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong recused himself from the highly publicized case. Lawmakers and the North Carolina State Bar have criticized how Nifong handled the investigation.

Nifong dismissed rape charges against the three suspects in December after the accuser told investigators she couldn't testify with 100 percent certainty that she was raped. Charges of first-degree sexual assault and kidnapping remain against them.

The day after Nifong asked for a special prosecutor in the case, Cooper said his office would examine the entire case before deciding how to proceed with the investigation.

Special prosecutors James Coman and Mary Winstead have spent the time since then looking at the evidence and interviewing witnesses. Sources tell WRAL that the accuser, a 28-year-old mother of three, met with them last month. Nifong didn't question her until nine months after she made the allegations.

A representative for the Attorney General's Office said Thursday that prosecutors are expected to conclude their review of the case within the next few weeks.

Pressler led the Duke's men's lacrosse program for 16 years before his resignation last April. He was later hired as head coach at Bryant University in Rhode Island.

He has refused to comment on the investigation in the past.

"There will be a time and place to talk about that," he said during a news conference on Feb. 23. "Today is not the time and the place to talk about that."

But, responding to a question about whether he believed the case should prompt changes in the North Carolina legal system, he replied, "I just hope that Rhode Island has a heckuva lot better system than North Carolina does."

39 Comments

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  • Concerned Mar 16, 2007

    Folks, this isn't the first time that someone has been wrongly accused of a crime. The prisons are full of people who should not be there. Let this be a lesson to everyone that you should not accuse people of a crime unless one has been committed. This is not the FIRST time and it definitely will not be the LAST.

  • Heelzrule Mar 16, 2007

    hey painexpress - exactly! i could not have said it better! This female changed her story more times than we can count. The reputation of these guys has been tarnished forever - because of lies.
    I'm glad to see the x-coach's comments. Its a shame that the University didn't support these guys more from the beginning. And for NIFONG - I hope he gets the maximum penalty that the law allows!

  • painexpress Mar 16, 2007

    I wish the three students ,Nifong, and the accuser could stand before The Honorable Judge Roy Bean; then I think we would see justice served.

  • Ashen-Shugar Mar 16, 2007

    nepatterson,

    So it is their fault after all? Is that what you are saying? While I agree that everyone must grow up sometime, the "They were asking for it" excuse is not any reason for some one to start throwing accusations. Wrong is wrong, and whether or not you agree with their behavior, no one is asking for anything like this. Think about that when a true victim is held by the defense to have been "asking for it". In any other circumstance it would have been harmless fun.

  • danhoggard Mar 16, 2007

    OH yeah and Nepatterson, YOU'RE AN IDIOT.. There I said it. Drinking a beer at 19 or 20 years old does not warrant getting your entire life RUINED!! Consequences for drinking underage include a hangover, maybe a ticket.. for hiring a stripper, maybe a rash on your thigh and an empty wallet, not getting charged with RAPE and KIDNAPPING!! That's the kind of ignorant thought process that lets district attorneys get away with this type of behavior and prosecutorial misconduct. Edcuate yourself!

  • GoodToGo Mar 16, 2007

    Nepatterson....I really don't think that any resonably thinking person out there doesn't think that the boys have some responsibility in all this....but I do, however, feel that most wouldn't think that a cost of thousands of dollars, their education, reputation and future is an appropriate price to pay. Maybe I just don't get it...but a college frat party doesn't equate to prison time for me!

  • danhoggard Mar 16, 2007

    Sean Kelly: What the H*LL are you talking about? He couldn't take that risk?? IT's his damned duty.. Yeah if he found excuplatory evidence, ie evidence showing the boys were innocent, you better bet he has to turn it over to the defense.. This is not a chess match or a Football game.. IT's someone's life. His job is to find the truth, NOT TO WIN AT ALL COST!! See that's the problem here. There was NEVER sufficient evidence that these boys did these crimes. In fact there was overwhelming evidence(see three non lacrosse players sperm in her panties and no others) that THEY DID NOT DO IT and he knew this from the beginning, before anyone was charged, but because an election was coming up and he wanted to impress his black consituants and Jesse Jackson, he charged them anyway.. If there is a Hell, there will be a place saved up front for Nifong. Maybe he can see beside the prostitute he represented here!

  • nepatterson Mar 16, 2007

    What the accuser did was criminal if she lied, and she should be prosecuted for for her crime. However, these boys are not "innocent" victims. They may be innocent of rape and be victims of false accusations, but they were not standing on high ground to begin with. If they had been, this incident would never have occurred. They themselves set the stage for this fiasco. It happened because they were breaking the laws of the state (contributing to or engaging in under age drinking) and the standards of Duke University (hiring a stripper). Sounds like their behavior was straight out of the movie Animal House. I realize most people are ready to turn a blind eye to their behavior now, but the "boys will boys" excuse doesn't wash. There comes a time to grow up and realize you there are consequences to the choices you make and you are accountable for those. No body comes out smelling like a rose in this one. Nifong also needs to be held accountable for his part in this disaster.

  • NC to GA Mar 15, 2007

    Dakine - that is the funniest thing I have heard anyone say on this matter. No... the case is not funny - but thanks for the laugh.

  • seankelly15 Mar 15, 2007

    FragmentFour - Nifong has maintained that if he had interviewed the accuser then he could be called as a witness for the defense. No NC law exists that would bar a DA from having an interview. However, as an officer of the court had the accuser proffered information that would have helped the defendants, he would be required to provide this information to the judge or the defense attorneys – Nifong could not take that risk.

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