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Ex-Lacrosse Coach Sues Duke, Says School Violated Settlement

Posted October 12, 2007
Updated October 13, 2007

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— Several months after settling his legal claims again Duke University over his forced resignation, former lacrosse coach Mike Pressler sued the school on Friday.

Pressler was ousted in April 2006, shortly after Durham police began investigating rape allegations against members of the lacrosse team. A stripper told police that three players assaulted her in an off-campus house, where she was performing at a team party.

The allegations were later found to be baseless, and state Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped all charges against the three players indicted in the case.

Pressler and Duke reached an undisclosed settlement that spring, which the university called at the time "an amicable, fair financial settlement."

The new lawsuit is related to the settlement, and a Duke official said Friday that the school would fight the suit.

"Mr. Pressler, aided by his attorney, reached a fair and final financial agreement with Duke University in the spring of 2007. We are disappointed that he is now trying to undo that agreement with an unfounded claim against Duke," Pamela Bernard, Duke's vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

"We will address the matter through the legal process and insist on honoring our existing agreement."

The Herald-Sun of Durham reported that Pressler's lawsuit alleges the university broke the terms of the confidential settlement when university senior vice president John Burness made disparaging comments about the former coach. The newspaper reported that the lawsuit asks the state court to void the settlement and hold a trial on Pressler's claim of wrongful termination.

Pressler did not return a call by The Associated Press seeking comment Friday night, and his agent declined to comment.

Pressler, who now coaches at Bryant University in Rhode Island, helped write a book, "It's Not About the Truth," about his experience in the lacrosse case.

122 Comments

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  • MarcoPolo Oct 14, 2007

    Bramester, sorry....I don't think any race is killing themselves with this issue but racism from any color should not be tolerated. This behavior does seems to be "overlooked" a lot by certain segments of our population and given a pass my many people. This should not happen.

    Hate should never be given a "pass". I wonder if the boys can add-on their punitive damages for it being a "hate crime". I've always been of the opinon though that any crime is a "hate crime." I think the City should have settled but logic doesn't seem to suit them. I think (and hope) they will find they missed a bargain.

  • MarcoPolo Oct 14, 2007

    When Judge Hardin was filling in and on his last day doing so, his office put out a pitiful release that the AG should investigate the DA's office. I wonder why this has not happened to date. I also was never thrilled with his replacement. It's clearly business as ususal, which is the wrong way to go in Durham.

  • MarcoPolo Oct 14, 2007

    Nancy, that’s the 1st time I’ve heard about those little hellions on the golf team!! I guess it’s ok because they hit a “white” ball. (sorry- couldn’t resist).

    Bramester- I totally agree. My guess is people don’t make a big deal about it unless they are the ones affected. It’s an ugly subject. In Durham, local gov’t- racism is completely saturated and has resulted in clear corruption and the breaking of their own respective policies and rules. I am glad that the boys are taking this to court so that the citizens will have to be accountable for the actions of their elected officials and their appointed officials. The hatred is so blatant and so ignored by the locals.

  • MarcoPolo Oct 14, 2007

    I’ve documented it before but most reaction has been ho-hum. Not everyone in Durham is like this but obviously, majority of the voting elect could be used as a sample which would reflect that the racism is overwhelming. Durham (citizenry and public officials) have refused to address and eradicate this monster.

    Durham will pay a lot of money in the end ….. but is that justice? Not enough IMHO. Could it happen to someone else? Yep. I think the whole place is corrupt and dirty. Elected officials never leave and continue to be re-elected with hardly any serious campaigning. There’s something going on there.

  • bramester Oct 14, 2007

    I would like to add to Nghtstarz2 comments as I was there. Black racist Victoria Peterson did constantly scream "burn the house down". The only reason she was'nt arrested was because her Black racist people (so-called Black Panthers) pulled her away.This is you're Black mentality, to intimidate everyone accused and to make the situation appear racial. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? This is a prime example of revearse racism! Does anyone out there understand this,and is willing to do something about it! We cannot let this continue! They speak about their beliefs constantly, We have the same right , but don't. We are killing ourselves as a race and letting this happen.

  • Nancy Oct 14, 2007

    Just another clarification from the committee report that Duke had done (which again, did not give them the support for their abuse to the team and therefore very few have read this report)

    21 The Committee also asked the Durham Police to inform it of any arrests that were recorded for Lacrosse players from 2000 until now. The Committee gave the Police the names of 90 players. The Department would indicate only whether it had arrested any of the players, and the nature of the alleged conduct. The Department had arrest records for 8 of the players. Virtually all of the cases were alcohol-related. According to the Department twelve charges were filed against the eight players: Vandalism, Drunk and Disorderly, Failure to Appear (2 cases), Public Urination, Indecent Exposure, Underage Possession of Alcohol (3 cases), Disorderly Conduct/Fighting and Possession of an Open Container of Alcohol in a Vehicle (2 cases).

    -------

    So, from 2000 - 8 violations?

  • Nancy Oct 14, 2007

    "Duke has time and time again released articles about their newly well-behaved student body. Give me a break!!! It is implying while Pressley was there- it was complete chaos."

    When Duke pulled together (quickly as well I might add) a committee to 'investigate' the behavior of the lacrosse team, this committee found that the golf team (with many less members) had more run ins with local police and Duke police than the lacrosse team.

    Did anyone bother to publicize that report? Nope - because it did NOT find what they were looking for to justify their (Duke Ivory Tower crowd) comments and actions against the team and Pressler.

    from the report:

    24 The men's golf team had a higher percentage of its members with disciplinary records, but it is significantly smaller than the lacrosse team. The results for all Duke teams are set out in Exhibit 8.

  • MarcoPolo Oct 14, 2007

    Concur....thanks...

  • coachsneighbor Oct 14, 2007

    Dear Marco,
    His name is Pressler, not Pressley. Just so you know.

  • wakecountyvoter Oct 14, 2007

    If there is a call for a "lacrosse tax" it better not be state wide. The "good" voters of Durham elected these so called leaders, let them pay to get out of this mess.

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