Local News

Nifong Issues Apology to Ex-Lacrosse Players

Posted April 12, 2007

— Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong on Thursday apologized to three Duke University lacrosse players that he had indicted on charges of attacking an exotic dancer.

"To the extent that I made judgments that ultimately proved to be incorrect, I apologize to the three students that were wrongly accused," Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong said in a statement released to the media.

"I also understand that whenever someone has been wrongly accused, the harm caused by the accusations might not be immediately undone merely by dismissing them," Nifong continued. "It is my sincere desire that the actions of Attorney General Cooper will serve to remedy any remaining injury that has resulted from these cases."

Nifong acknowledged the decision of state prosecutors to dismiss all charges against David Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty was correct. But, he said, he took issues with some of Attorney General Roy Cooper's comments from Wednesday.

Cooper said Evans, Seligmann and Finnerty were the victims of Nifong's "tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations."

Without naming Nifong, Cooper came down forcefully against "overreaching prosecutors" and called for a law that would allow the state Supreme Court to remove a district attorney from a case whenever such a move would assist the pursuit of justice.

Nifong said he did not have anything to hide when he turned the case over to the state.

"The fact that I chose to seek that review should, in and of itself, call into question the characterizations of this prosecution as 'rogue' and 'unchecked.'"

Finnerty's father, Kevin Finnerty, released a statement late Thursday afternoon calling Nifong's statement "an attempt at an apology" that is "disingenuous and insincere."

"It falls well short of whatever it might take to even remotely repair the damage inflicted on so many people," he said.

Evans' attorney, Joe Cheshire, told WRAL that his client would have the same reaction as Kevin Finnerty.

"If you read the entire statement of Mr. Nifong, he is doing exactly what he's done in the entire case and that is engaging in revisionist history," Cheshire said. "He had access to all the information in the case that showed these young men were innocent. And the only evidence he chose not to look at was what he didn't want to see to tell the truth."

"It's a little bit late to make an apology and to try to say now that it was right that the case be dismissed. It should have been dismissed a year ago," Cheshire added.

Although the criminal investigation in the Duke lacrosse case has ended, Nifong's legal troubles are just beginning. In addition to facing disbarrment for ethics violations alleged by the North Carolina State Bar, he could also face civil lawsuits from the accused lacrosse players and could also be investigated by the state.

When asked by a reporter Wednesday whether the state felt the need to apologize for what happened with the case, Cooper said: "I think a lot of people owe a lot of apologies to other people. I think that those people ought to consider doing that."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Lizard Paw Apr 14, 2007

    "I'm sorry. Now vote me back in office. You're a bad christian if you don't. You don't forgive. Blah, blah, blah"

    (I just hate the way democrats try to use our own christianity against us.)

  • hollyd Apr 14, 2007

    Now that he is not up for election and up for being disbarred, he sees fit to apologize. Shows his character. And to those who say she changed her story for payoffs. What would that say about her character? I believe she is a very troubled young woman in need of help. Look, she has two children with no father and now a third. And I think she has hurt other women of all races who may be real victims. And to lovely 82, rascism does go both ways. These young men were victims of rascism and Al Sharpton makes lots of remarks that if made by a white man would demand an immediate apology. I think unoffensive, kind tolerant behavior applies to all races and many black leaders are not tolerant and certainly not kind. There was a lot of unnecessary hatred stirred up in this case and it was stirred up by Nfong and influential black leaders. For us to move forward, we need to start looking at facts in cases and not she's black, he is white or vice versa. None of the evidence matched.

  • carter Apr 13, 2007

    April 13, 2007 1:23 p.m.
    I agree
    it's interesting to see how 2 men can get so many people worked up.

  • Rebel Apr 13, 2007

    Mr. Nifong's "apology" is a little like someone telling you "I'm sorry your feelings were hurt". He did not just say "I'm sorry"--and he should have!

  • giffman Apr 13, 2007

    lovely 82

    The problem is that Jackson, Sharpton, and the NAACP don't give a rats behind about learning the facts. They rush to judgement because it promotes their agendas.

  • Weetie Apr 13, 2007

    An Apology????

    All he has to offer is an apology for ruining the lives of three innocent young men - and all for the sake of politics. He needs to be in prison for the rest of his life - and the lying accuser should be in there with him.

  • WBTS EARL Apr 13, 2007


  • NCGal Apr 13, 2007

    What I can't figure out is why it took so long for the AG to get involved. He should have stepped up to the plate months ago.

  • whocares Apr 13, 2007

    As I have said all along, Nifong thought that this case would make a name for him (like Jim Harden). However, Jim Harden did not lie and keep information from the defendant's attorney. This apology is SO pittiful that if I were these men I would tell him that we're sorry but we do not accept an apology that tries to make you look good.

  • petarp Apr 13, 2007

    That was not an apology, that was him trying to defend himself. He spent more time trying to explain his actions than apologizing. These men have been drug through the mud for over a year. Come on Nifong a 2 year old apologizes better than that pitiful excuse of an apology.