Local News

Duke Case a Tragedy, Cooper Tells '60 Minutes'

Posted April 15, 2007
Updated April 16, 2007

— Neither Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong nor his staff ever challenged the contradictions of the Duke lacrosse rape accuser, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper told CBS News.

“We don’t think that any of these tough questions were asked of her,” Cooper said in his first interview with correspondent Leslie Stahl since he dismissed all charges against David Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty.

The interview was part of a “60 Minutes” report about the Duke lacrosse case, which aired Sunday.

Cooper said the story of the accuser—Crystal Mangum—continued to change as his investigators talked to her.

“We started out knowing we had a problem…and the way it turned out, it was much worse than we thought,” Cooper said.

According to court records, Mangum initially told Durham police that she was raped, sodomized and beaten for a 30-minute period during the early-morning hours of March 14 in a bathroom at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., where she performed as an exotic dancer.

That led to a grand jury indicting all three men on charges of first-degree rape, sexual offense and kidnapping.

But as the case continued, defense attorneys questioned contradictions to her story, which included the timing of the alleged assault and the number of people involved.

"All of this was a tragedy because it should have been stopped somewhere along the line. Good prosecutors, we demand them to look hard at the facts, look hard at the law," Cooper said. "We also demand them to change their minds if the facts so dictate. Here, these contractions were clearly pointing to the fact that this attack did not occur. And it's disappointing and really outrageous that it was not stopped sooner."

Among the new stories Mangum told, according to CBS News, was an account of the rape in which she contradicts the account she gave Nifong that led to him dropping rape charges back in December.

“She was suspended in mid air and was being assaulted by all three of them in the bathroom,” Cooper recalled the accuser saying. “And I’ve been in that bathroom and it was very difficult for me to see how that could have occurred.”

Cooper told Stahl that his investigators were shocked by the situation.

“A number of them said to me, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this,’ he said. "It was amazing how she could continue to tell different stories.”

Cooper also said he was offended by Nifong’s behavior during his nearly yearlong handling of the case.

“When you have a prosecutor who takes advantage of his enormous power and overreaches like this, then yes, it's offensive,” Cooper said. “It’s an affront to the more careful prosecutors who do their jobs well every day.”

Sunday’s report also included interviews with Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann – their first since being cleared of the charges. Cooper not only dismissed the charges but declared them innocent.

“To have people in front of your house banging pots with (signs that say), 'Castrate,' 'Real Men Tell the Truth,' 'Sunday Morning, Time to Confess,' and (Nifong) going out there and saying all these things before any piece of evidence had ever been presented is just mind boggling,” Evans said.

Finnerty told Stahl that the dismissal has given him his life back after a "hopeless" year in which he thought the case would end many times.

“There was probably about 15 times during the last year when people would say, ‘It's over, you know, it's going to be done, just give it a couple of days,’ and it would never happen,” Finnerty said.

Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans said they are now making plans for their lives for the first time in a year -- for Evans that means a job on Wall Street and for Seligmann and Finnerty, going back to college -- and don't want to focus on Mangum or why she told the story she did.

"I think she’s a very troubled woman," Evans said. "We’re not vindictive people. We don’t want to take her away from her children. We hope that she gets help. And hopefully … we won’t have to hear that name ever again."

As for Nifong, Seligman said he should "absolutely" be punished for the way he handled the investigation but Evans said he is withholding judgment .

"I can only imagine it's very difficult for him to go home and have go look his son in the eyes and have to answer the questions that he probably has for him," Evans added.


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  • Weetie Apr 17, 2007

    Crystal Gail Mangum needs to be in prison with Mike Nifong...end of story

  • weepyeyes007 Apr 16, 2007


    just go do something useful, her pic is all over the internet, you have not proved anything. Just made yourself look more uncrediable, yur case is falling apart. lol
    stop trying to get others to do all the work.

  • weepyeyes007 Apr 16, 2007


    Kobe settled out of court her name and pic was plastered everywhere. here is one look it up. why dont you look up stuff before jumping to conclusions. SOUNDS famiLIAR


  • Slip Kid Apr 16, 2007

    ANYBODY who thinks Mangum deserves any judicial sympathy needs a lesson in understanding aberrant behavior.

    Yes, she's messed up in the head; yes, she tried to weasel her way out of a confrontaion with police at the very beginning of this incident by claiming rape; yes, she is a dancer, stripper, prostitute and a mother. Everything else she says about this incident is a complete fabrication of her twisted mind. If you think otherwise, you aren't playing with a full deck and need to have your head examined, too.

    A little human and Christian compassion? Yes, but in measure with the weight of the pain and anguish she has caused us all.

  • PJM Apr 16, 2007

    See what I am saying....why even comment on someones spelling MR OR MRS "ME IN RAEFORD"? The point is the girl needs help, @Q#$

  • PJM Apr 16, 2007

    The "accused" obviously needs help!! And her friend/girl who supposedly was there did not help matters either with her tell all episodes! Did she get paid for her many appearances! I will be the first to say I thought she was lying about it all cause who lies about being raped....yuk! that is definitely disgusting and she should learn from this lesson....YES FIRE does burn...but also don't place yourself in a compromising position for harm such as a party full of guys and a two girls

  • me-in-raeford Apr 16, 2007

    spelling correction .... "accuser"...not "accused"

  • me-in-raeford Apr 16, 2007

    ammilkay...Crystal Mangum's name was plastered all over the news because she was the perpetrator of a GREAT DEAL OF HARM...the Attorney General may not want her criminally charged BUT a great many of us DO...at a minimum she should have to wear a sign around her neck warning the innocent males of this state that she likes to cry rape when she hasn't been touched! We deserve to know her name...and I've never seen her picture...although I did see the picture of the woman who accused Koby Bryant...I know I was told her name but I can't remember it!

    There is one other VERY LARGE difference....the reason the charges were dismissed against Koby Bryant was because the accused failed to cooperate with the prosecution...

    ALSO, Koby Bryant went to court and won the "right" to have the "alleged victim" called the "accused" and not "victim"...

    Crystal Mangum...kept the pretense up ...

    There are lots more differences...should I continue or do you have the jist??

  • St Ives Apr 16, 2007

    Roy Cooper is the real hero in this story. He stepped up to the plate and said what needed to be said, without the worry of offending someone

  • ammikay Apr 16, 2007