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Second Federal Suit Filed in Duke Lacrosse Case

Posted December 18, 2007

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— Mike Nifong, the city of Durham and Duke University face another lawsuit stemming from the now-discredited criminal investigation involving three members of Duke's 2006 men's lacrosse team.

Ryan McFadyen, Matthew Wilson and Breck Archer filed the federal lawsuit Monday accusing dozens of defendants of fraud, negligence and conspiracy for pursuing the case despite evidence that the rape allegations were false.

"This case is a reckoning; it is an accounting of those who were willing to obstruct and pervert justice to serve their own selfish aims, those who had the power to intervene and did not, and the damage they have done," the lawsuit reads.

The players are seeking a jury trial and unspecified compensation for past and future economic loss, harm to their reputations, loss of privacy and other damages.

The 391-page complaint alleges the defendants tried to "railroad 47 Duke University students as either principals or accomplices based upon Crystal Mangum's allegations of rape and kidnapping."

"For 13 months, the defendants and others not yet named in this action conspired and colluded to subject plaintiffs and their teammates to public outrage and condemnation before a national and international audience, day after day," the lawsuit states.

"Throughout this affair, those who had the power to destroy Ryan, Matt, Breck and their teammates acted to destroyed (sic) them; and Duke University, with the statutory authority and power to intervene to prevent the wrongs being committed upon their own students, refused to intervene."

Duke President Richard Brodhead, Duke faculty, the Duke University Police Department, former Durham Police Chief Steve Chalmers, City Manager Patrick Baker and Brian Meehan, former director of DNA Security Inc., the private lab that performed a second round of DNA tests in the case, are among others named in the lawsuit.

Duke, which has settled previous lawsuits stemming from the case, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying the suit is "misdirected" and that it will "aggressively defend the university."

"The university offered many months ago to reimburse the attorneys' fees and other out-of-pocket expenses of the players whose lives were disrupted but who were not indicted. We were and remain disappointed those offers were not accepted," the statement read.

The city of Durham issued a statement saying it believes the "lawsuit is without merit" and that it "will vigorously defend the city and its employees in court."

Others named in the suit had no comment or calls were not immediately returned. A number at Nifong's home had been disconnected, and attorney Jim Craven, who has represented Nifong in the past, was in court on another case.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Robert Ekstrand of Durham, also had no comment.

Over the course of the 13-month investigation, the suit alleges the defendants conspired to "conceal the overwhelming evidence of innocence they found or knew to exist very early on."

The lawsuit comes nearly two months after the three players who were indicted in the case – David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann – filed a civil rights lawsuit charging that Nifong, Durham police officers and others conspired to keep a weak case alive because of the then-district attorney's political aspirations.

McFadyen, Wilson and Archer were members of the lacrosse team when Mangum told police she was raped at a March 2006 team party where she was hired as a stripper.

The men were among 46 of the team's 47 members who complied with a judge's order to provide DNA samples and be photographed. The team's sole black member was not tested because Mangum said her attackers were white.

Duke suspended McFadyen amid the criminal investigation for an e-mail he sent shortly after the team party in which he described how he would kill and skin strippers, according to court documents.

Administrators later reinstated McFadyen, noting that his remarks were "in jest" and a take-off from "American Psycho," a Bret Easton Ellis novel that was made into a movie about a serial killer.

The lawsuit accuses Nifong and police investigators of failing to include the context of the e-mail in the warrant they used to search McFadyen's dorm room. The search warrant later became public record.

"They knew that Ryan's e-mail, taken out of context, would accelerate the firestorm," the lawsuit said.

McFadyen of Mendham, N.J., is a senior listed on the 2007-08 Blue Devils roster. Wilson, of Durham, and Archer, of East Quogue, N.Y., were listed as seniors on the spring 2006-07 roster, and it was unclear whether they still attend the university.

The complaint is not the first lawsuit from an unindicted lacrosse player. In January, Kyle Dowd filed a civil suit against Duke University, claiming an instructor gave him a failing grade because he was a lacrosse player.

Dowd claimed the grade, given to him by visiting professor Kim Curtis, nearly kept him from graduating. He and the university settled in May, but the details of the settlement were not disclosed.

116 Comments

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  • HappyGirl08 Dec 19, 2007

    I think I am gonna file a lawsuit over having to hear about this mess for months and months and then having to get fire mad at these dumb kids for thinking they should get something too.

    The basis of my suit? Well, its a quality of life issue. I am tired of hearing about it, so it makes me frustrated and angry. So, this is not good for my health. If I am sick, then my quality of life is deminished.

    So, who wants to represent me?!!

  • syracuseinwonderland Dec 19, 2007

    "And still no one has stated, under WHAT legal grounds can they sue the city of Durham?" issymayake

    Have you read the complaint?

  • 68_polara Dec 19, 2007

    "Not surprised, the ONLY surprise is that the entire team isn't involved in this lawsuit. They were all publicly ridiculed for months and months.

    It was the "team" before it was the individuals. Even then, the "Team" was the subject of two Duke U investigations into conduct going back years, only to find (way too late to help their reputations) that they were the highest grade average athletes in all of Duke; that they had very few run ins with police and all for misdemeanors such as open containers, noise issues and not a word spoken about the golf team who REALLY had issues with behavior and police matters.

    I say go for it! Perhaps then people will not prejudge based on biases and have to subject anyone else to the misery they put an entire team through for 13 months.

    DA, DPD, Cty Mgr, Mayor, Duke President, Professors etc. they all spoke loud and clear for too long and were all wrong. Rights were violated, repeatedly."

    Very well said Nacy

  • singleinapex Dec 19, 2007

    Duke should add another degree program.

    How to be a professional "victim".

  • Nancy Dec 19, 2007

    Not surprised, the ONLY surprise is that the entire team isn't involved in this lawsuit. They were all publicly ridiculed for months and months.

    It was the "team" before it was the individuals. Even then, the "Team" was the subject of two Duke U investigations into conduct going back years, only to find (way too late to help their reputations) that they were the highest grade average athletes in all of Duke; that they had very few run ins with police and all for misdemeanors such as open containers, noise issues and not a word spoken about the golf team who REALLY had issues with behavior and police matters.

    I say go for it! Perhaps then people will not prejudge based on biases and have to subject anyone else to the misery they put an entire team through for 13 months.

    DA, DPD, Cty Mgr, Mayor, Duke President, Professors etc. they all spoke loud and clear for too long and were all wrong. Rights were violated, repeatedly.

  • issymayake Dec 19, 2007

    And still no one has stated, under WHAT legal grounds can they sue the city of Durham?

    The officials of the city of Durham did not create a hostile environment on the campus of Duke. No official of the city of Durham hung disparaging flyers up all over the city. The Durham police were carrying out an investigation. Suing the city is as frivolous as if they had sued NC Central for having a town hall meeting about the case.

  • newtodurham Dec 19, 2007

    I've never heard of these three, so how have their lives been ruined? Maybe they should have thought about the reprecussions when yelling out racial epithets while hiring strippers the same night. They did more to ruin their own "so called" reputations than Nifong, the city of Durham, Santa Claus and whomever else they are suing.

    For all you thinking that this is a legitmate civil rights dispute...think again!

  • notaproblem Dec 19, 2007

    I think they should also sue the NAACP and Rev. Sharpton- they added to the defamation and slander that was going on.

  • ++Ajax++ Dec 19, 2007

    retired and luv it,
    The problem is that Mike Nifong was not elected into his position. He was appointed by governor Mike Easley.

  • 68_polara Dec 19, 2007

    retired and luv it,

    Got family and friends here and a plot of land I couldn't afford else were. You know the silly thing about it is that at the point in which the election was held it was obvious that these kids were innocent and that Nifong was still just going after them to get elected. He won by almost a land slide and I don't think anything has really changed here.

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