Washington — A North Carolina congressman has renewed his call for a federal investigation into Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong and the way he handled the sexual assault investigation involving three Duke University lacrosse players.
Third District Rep. Walter Jones in December asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review the case, saying Nifong mad prejudicial statements to the media and had told police to violate identification procedures.
The Justice Department declined to intervene, saying it was more appropriate to allow the case to play out. Federal attorneys also noted that Nifong already faced ethics charges from the North Carolina State Bar.
The State Bar has alleged that Nifong violated his ethical responsibilities by making inflammatory comments to the media early in the investigation and by withholding evidence from defense attorneys that could prove the players' innocence.
All charges against the three players were dismissed Wednesday. State Attorney General Roy Cooper said there was no credible evidence to show that Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans assaulted Crystal Mangum at a lacrosse team party in March 2006.
"“In light of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s dismissal of all criminal charges against the three men, it is clear that this matter now cries out for oversight," Jones wrote Wednesday in a letter to the Justice Department. "I again urge you to launch a federal investigation to review Mr. Nifong’s conduct to determine if it constitutes prosecutorial misconduct and has denied these students their civil rights as U.S. citizens under federal law.”
Jones said at least eight other members of Congress also have called for a federal investigation of Nifong.
"Now that the state has dismissed all charges, the Justice Department has no reason not to investigate the substantial legal evidence suggesting Mr. Nifong violated these young men’s civil rights. I strongly encourage you to take action in this case," he wrote.