Local News

Duke President Suspends Future Lacrosse Matches Pending Investigation

Posted March 28, 2006
Updated January 7, 2007

— Duke University has suspended future men's lacrosse games until there is a "clearer resolution of the legal situation" involving team members and allegations of rape, President Richard Brodhead announced Tuesday evening during a news conference.

Brodhead said to continue to play while the investigation is under way would be inappropriate, and that in no way was it a form of punishment for the lacrosse team's alleged actions.

On Saturday, Duke's athletic director, Joe Alleva, forfeited two of the lacrosse team's matches -- one on Saturday against Georgetown, and the other on Tuesday against Mount Saint Mary's. As a result, Duke dropped from No. 2 to No. 9 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Coaches' Poll.

"I met with the captains this morning and they expressed regret for their errors of judgment and the embarrassment they had caused themselves, their families, the athletic department and the university," Brodhead said. "They repeated their denial of the criminal allegations that have been widely reported against three of the players."

The news conference comes just one day after Durham police searched another house in connection with recent claims by an exotic dancer that she was beaten, sodomized and raped by three members of the men's lacrosse team, and the same day two 911 calls were released in connection with the investigation.

The house is reported to be the residence of two lacrosse teammates, and is located less than one-tenth of a mile from where the alleged sexual assault occurred.

"There was evidence seized in the execution of the search warrant," Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong said Tuesday, although he would not say what police were looking for or what they found. He did say, however, more searches were likely.

The district attorney, also on Tuesday, met with attorneys representing many players on the team, but no involved party would comment on what they discussed.

One attorney, Bill Thomas, however, did tell WRAL that the allegations against the players are "false and without merit," and that the team "gladly awaits the DNA test results." Thomas also said he believes police and the community are rushing to judgment before all the facts in the case are known -- precisely what Nifong said he is trying to avoid.

"We're not going to arrest anyone without evidence that they committed a crime," Nifong said.

On Monday, the State Bureau of Investigation crime lab received DNA samples from 46 of 47 members of the lacrosse team. At Nifong's request, the lab will expedite its testing to determine if any of the team's players were involved in the alleged rape.

Experts say modern technology means tests can be performed within a few hours, but because of quality-control measures that most laboratories take, it will likely be next week before all the samples are processed.

911 Calls Released

The woman who reported that she was raped said she thought she would be dancing for five men at a bachelor party on March 13, but instead was surrounded by dozens of men who shouted racial slurs at her and another dancer.

Two 911 calls, released by authorities Tuesday, suggest the men who were there directed similar language at two other women who had nothing to do with the case.

"I don't know if this is an emergency," a caller told a Durham County 911 dispatcher. "They're just hanging out by a wall ... And I saw them all come out in like, a big frat house -- and me and my girlfriend were walking by -- and they called us a -----."

Nifong said investigators are also looking into whether race was a factor in the case.

In another 911 call, the caller tells a dispatcher that there is a woman outside a store who refuses to get out of a parked car. Police believe that call was placed shortly after the alleged attack and that the woman in the car was the dancer who made the rape accusations.

Members of the lacrosse team, who have remained relatively silent, denied the allegations against them, but did admit that there was underage drinking at the party.

No one has yet to be charged in connection with the rape allegations, but Nifong said on Monday that partygoers could also be charged for aiding and abetting.

"There's a good chance if someone had spoken up and said, 'You can't do this,' it might not have happened," Nifong told WRAL on Monday.

Call For Action Reaches Community

The call for action in regard to the allegations against the lacrosse team has spread off campus and into the community. In addition to ongoing protests, columnists for both The Durham Herald-Sun and the Raleigh News & Observer called on the school to cancel the rest of the team's season.

So did Durham Mayor Bill Bell.

"I think the fact that they canceled games showed good wisdom," Bell told WRAL Tuesday. "I suggested that I think they should cancel the rest of the games for the rest of the season. I think that, in itself, would make a statement -- not only to the persons involved, but to the community."

The parents of the victim in the alleged rape also told WRAL Tuesday that they don't understand why no one is taking responsibility for the alleged crimes. They also said that they are overwhelmed by the support the community has shown their daughter.

"I'm grateful they are doing this," said the victim's father. "I really am. Maybe someday, I can meet all them because it's a great thing they are doing. They understand too no one deserves to be treated like this."

Her parents said that their daughter is trying to work through what she claims happened to her, but that it has not been easy.

"I can't understand it," the father said. "Nobody deserves this no matter what their occupation is. They don't deserve to be treated like that."

Durham CrimeStoppers is now asking for the public's assistance in the investigation.

"Although we have received many calls expressing concerns and anger about this incident, we have not received any calls which will allow us to assist in resolving this case," said Durham CrimeStoppers Coordinator Cpl. David Addison in a news release issued Tuesday. "We are extending our plea for information and help to our Duke family, who are also part of our community."

Addison said that anyone with information about the case could anonymously contact Durham CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. Durham CrimeStoppers will pay cash for any information that leads to an arrest in this case.

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