Local News

Duke Adds to Legal Team in Lacrosse Lawsuit Fight

Posted February 6, 2008

— A former U.S. deputy attorney general will help defend Duke University in a federal lawsuit filed by three 2005-2006 lacrosse players who were not indicted in the now-discredited rape investigation that made national headlines for more than a year.

Washington, D.C., attorney Jamie Gorelick joins the university's legal team to fight the civil lawsuit filed in December by Breck Archer, Ryan McFadyen and Matthew Wilson, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court this week.

Gorelick, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Washington, D.C., served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration. She was also a member of the 9/11 Commission, which looked into the events and circumstances leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Archer, McFadyen and Wilson accuse the university, the city of Durham, former District Attorney Mike Nifong and others, in part, of trying to "railroad 47 Duke University students as either principals or accomplices" based upon exotic dancer Crystal Mangum's claims that three lacrosse players raped and sexually assaulted at a party in March 2006.

They 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 men were among 46 of the team's 47 members who complied with a judge's order to provide DNA samples and be photographed. They allege to being subjected to condemnation before a national and international "day after day" following Mangum's allegations.

Last year, the university settled with the three former players who were indicted – David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann. Duke has called the lawsuit by Archer, McFadyen and Wilson  "misdirected" and has said it will "aggressively defend" itself.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped all charges against Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann in April, calling them innocent victims of a Nifong's "tragic rush to accuse."

Nifong was later disbarred for his handling of the case and spent a night in jail for lying to a judge.

He has since declared bankruptcy, citing more than $180 million in liabilities. Almost all of that amount is the estimated damages from pending litigation.


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  • dave2345 Feb 7, 2008

    I have only one question, "why is Durham not filing charges against the young lady that caused all this". Mayor Bell, we the people want to know what the city is going to do about all this. You need to be held responsible for the Citys' part in this whole calamity. We as tax payers are the ones that are going to suffer. Mayor Bell, either you get the people to help you do your job, or I respectfully request you step down so we can get the leadership we need to move forward.

  • cbsconsult Feb 6, 2008

    Let's see how this works - I get accused of a crime - am never charged, am never indicted, am never arrested - BUT I can sue everyone for millions? WOW! I wonder who I can sue for that traffic stop - after all - I was never charged, never arrested, never indicted - but I was humiliated at having to sit on the side of the road while all those motorists (who did not know me) gawked and made judgements about me. Where is the line forming to file MY suit?

  • onyourheels2 Feb 6, 2008

    if duke had gone by the rule of innocent until proven guilty, this all could have been avoided.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Feb 6, 2008

    FE, I'm with you - I read that headline two or three times trying to make sense of it and gave up.

    MrQuestions, the boys were accused of raping someone and were dragged through the mud for a year before they were declared innocent. Whatever crimes they committed previously are irrelevant - they did not commit the crime for which they were charged, period.

  • Thinkb4uspeak Feb 6, 2008

    In the meanwhile, people who have completed extended prison sentences for crimes in which DNA evidence has completely exonerated them, get 20,000 a year for all of their years wrongfully trapped in the system. There is that privelege at work again.

  • DukeMoney Feb 6, 2008

    Looks like the expensive fight between Rich Daddies' Dream Team Lawyers and Wealthy Duke's Dream Team Lawyers just got notched-up a bit more.

  • gnew46 Feb 6, 2008

    Had the boys not been pre-judged by Duke, the media, Nifong, the Durham PD and everyone else who touched this case, all of this mess could have been avoided. All served as judge, jury and executioners of the innocent players.

  • MrQuestions Feb 6, 2008

    I need my meds plz! "Mr. Questions, The players doing the wrong thing doesn't mean that Duke did not do the wrong thing in response."

    Duke didn't DO anything... Officially they just hunkered in the bunker. It was a JUDGE that had them DNA tested and photographed, not Duke. A major part of the failure in this case is that Duke didn't do anything back when part of the team was simply drunk and violent (Something they would never have tolerated from say the men's basketball team). Duke fired a coach who's team was out of control long before they hired the infamous stripper. His players were getting CONVICTED in NC court of drunken and violent crimes months before the party. But it is so convenient to forget that little set of facts, and their 15 prior convictions. Pressler should have been chucked out on his ear when he recruited his first convicted felon a year before the party.

  • squid90 Feb 6, 2008

    If one is innocent of the charges, then why would one need a lawyer. Or to put it another way, as brodhead said... go to court and prove your innocence.

  • whatelseisnew Feb 6, 2008

    I hope they take Duke to the cleaners. Perhaps then they will start hiring some professors over there that don't turn into lynch mobs.