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Durham PD Goes Under Microscope for Duke Lacrosse Case

Posted July 20, 2007

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— An attorney who represented one of three Duke lacrosse players prosecuted on false rape allegations appeared Friday before a special committee examining the Durham Police Department's handling of the case.

Charlotte lawyer Jim Cooney was on the agenda of the special committee's first meeting. Discussion could last from a couple of hours to as long as the entire day.

Cooney represented Reade Seligmann, who along with David Evans and Collin Finnerty, was indicted last year on charges of first-degree rape, sexual assault and kidnapping charges that later were all dropped.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell and members of the Durham City Council called for the 12-member panel in May following an internal police department report that found, in part, that a tense relationship between then-District Attorney Mike Nifong and defense attorneys had hampered the investigation and that detectives had done nothing wrong.

Bell said that report lacked focus and left questions about the police department's role in the case unanswered, specifically who led the investigation — detectives or Nifong.

"It's really an embarrassment that we're going through this and that we have to do this process," Durham City Councilman Eugene Brown said last month. "It's painful, but the truth, sometimes, is painful, and it needs to come out."

Durham Police Chief Steve Chalmers has defended his officers' actions and has said that he wanted a third-party review and a more in-depth report before Bell called for it.

Former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Willis Whichard heads the panel, which also includes retired Chapel Hill police Chief Gregg Jarvies, Durham attorney Ken Spaulding and a victims advocate, Aurelia Sands-Bell.

An exotic dancer, Crystal Gail Mangum, alleged she was raped, sodomized and beaten for nearly 30 minutes during a March 13, 2006, party at a house rented by Evans and two other lacrosse team co-captains.

But the case was troubled, with Mangum changing details of her story from nearly the beginning, claiming she had been raped by numerous men but failing on several occasions to identify the men she said attacked her.

Discrepancies in her story ultimately led to Nifong's dismissing rape charges against the accused in December.

The North Carolina Attorney General's Office, which took over the case in January, dismissed the remaining charges in April and, in what legal observers call a rare move, declared Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann innocent.

Last month, a disciplinary panel from the North Carolina State Bar disbarred Nifong for his handling of the case. He later resigned from his post.

The special committee's convening comes one day after the city announced the man, Jose Lopez Sr., an assistant police chief in Hartford, Conn., who will replace Chalmers when he retires at the end of the year.

Lopez said Thursday he plans to move the police department forward and put the troubled lacrosse case in the past.

"I don't really believe the city of Durham is defined by Duke lacrosse, and neither is this esteemed police department," he said.

131 Comments

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  • CauseTaker Jul 20, 2007

    Please WRAL,

    Where are the videos from today's Investigative Hearings?

    I had to leave for work this morning soon after the opening statements. All day I was looking forward to getting home this evening to watch/hear the testimony.

  • Nancy Jul 20, 2007

    "Nancy I've heard you say you are working. I want a job like yours where can I find one? I hope if you are working for the state our tax dollars aren't paying you to computer every day as I've seen lately. I'm not trying to be malicious, I'm just curious."

    ladyblue - no, I'm not employed outside of my home, my work is self contained, noone pays me to work for them :)

  • ladyblue Jul 20, 2007

    Nancy I've heard you say you are working. I want a job like yours where can I find one? I hope if you are working for the state our tax dollars aren't paying you to computer every day as I've seen lately. I'm not trying to be malicious, I'm just curious.

  • mythoughts22 Jul 20, 2007

    excuse my grammer i am in a hurry its friday!

  • mythoughts22 Jul 20, 2007

    nancy: i wasnt sure if she every testified ..i had asked you that early but i think thats when u were retreiving all that info on the case..but thanks this is just one big mess....you all have a good weekend i am gone for the day and chat with you monday!!!

  • Nancy Jul 20, 2007

    mythoughts, sorry, I misread your post then.

    As to perjury, she was not under oath, so she can't be charged with perjury per se. She could be charged only with a misdemeanor of filing a false police report, max. fine of $500 and I don't believe there is even jail time associated with it.

  • mythoughts22 Jul 20, 2007

    nancy: are you trying to say i feel she was?? no exactly the opposite i feel that she made it up as i stated early she should be charged with perjury all i was saying is no one knows for sure because some people want to accuse those boys of raping her and as i said her history states she is not an honest person

  • Nancy Jul 20, 2007

    "As to the question of being a prostitute, the statment of the driver (made to a reporter for the N&O - I read the article as well) is not sworn testimony. If there is a lession to be learned from this mess it is that accuracy is essential."

    Sean - that statement from the driver was done at police headquarters, written and signed by him. I don't know why it has to be sworn in a court of law to be considered accurate or true. In fact, you would be stating that only a jury can determine facts prior to indictment if you disregard his statement. Further, his statement could be investigated to determine it's truthfulness by the police. The police however, failed to investigate anything concerning her whereabouts leading up to the time she arrived at 610. They didn't investigate with the escort agency or the Platinum Club until the 60 Minutes show aired which exposed those facts.

  • Nancy Jul 20, 2007

    "no one knows what really went on there except them but all we have to go on is history and it says crystal has lied about something similar to this before. maybe they did have sex with her but how do we know it was rape????"

    Can you explain how three Title 1 athletes, all large, can brutally (as Mangum claimed repeatedly and in great descriptive terms) rape, beat, strangle a woman for 20-30 min in a small bathroom and not one stitch of DNA of any sort found on her, in her, or on her clothing be found? Yet DNA from several unknown males be found in her, on her and on her clothing?

    There is not a stitch of evidence that she was so raped at the house by anyone at that house.

  • seankelly15 Jul 20, 2007

    Nancy - "...Second. The plaintiff must establish that the defendant was responsible for or caused that proceeding to be instituted against him/her...what the defendant did to initiate the criminal judicial proceeding against the plaintiff such as signing a complaint, etc...." I see no restriction that it can only be the DA. Mangum could be sued for malicious prosecution (in reality it would not be worth it because she has bo resources and thus could not settle a judgement against her). As to the question of being a prostitute, the statment of the driver (made to a reporter for the N&O - I read the article as well) is not sworn testimony. If there is a lession to be learned from this mess it is that accuracy is essential.

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