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Unindicted Duke Lacrosse Players Plan Federal Lawsuit

Posted February 20, 2008
Updated February 21, 2008

— More than three dozen current and former Duke lacrosse players plan to file a federal lawsuit against the university, the city of Durham and others involved in the case, according to the players' lawyer.

A spokesman for Washington-based attorney Charles J. Cooper said the civil lawsuit would be filed today on behalf of 38 players who were not charged in the notorious case.

Criminal defense attorney and former Wake County Assistant District Attorney Hart Miles said he thinks the unindicted players are trying to redeem their reputations, which they likely feel were tarnished.

“Obviously, the university and whoever else is mentioned can't put these players back in the position they were before the case broke. What they're trying to do is be compensated for that loss,” Miles said.

Former Durham County prosecutor Mike Nifong won indictments against  lacrosse players David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann in 2006, accusing them of raping exotic dancer Crystal Mangum at a team party.

Shortly after Mangum claimed she was raped at 610 Buchanan Blvd., the university canceled the rest of the lacrosse season, and the coach resigned.

The case eventually unraveled amid Mangum's changing her story and a lack of evidence. Nifong dismissed rape charges, and state prosecutors who took over the case at Nifong's request dropped all other charges and said the accused players were innocent. Nifong was later disbarred for his handling of the case.

Still, Miles said, it seems Duke lacrosse is forever linked to that case.

“Duke lacrosse and the word 'rape' are used together when the conversation turns to Duke lacrosse,” Miles said.

Spokesman Robert Bork Jr. declined Wednesday night to release the specific allegations that he said would be made in the 30-count, 100-page lawsuit.

"It covers a whole lot of things, including violation of privacy," Bork said. "It's not just emotional distress."

Duke officials declined to comment Wednesday night.

“It'll be up to the lawyers and their clients to present the best evidence they have to show they were injured in those ways,” Miles said.

The three accused players reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Duke in June. They later filed their own federal civil rights lawsuit against Nifong, the City of Durham and the police detectives who handled the case.

That case is pending, as is a separate federal lawsuit filed by three unindicted players who sued the university, Nifong and dozens of others for inflicting emotional distress.


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  • foetine Feb 21, 2008

    The 88 professors at Duke need to be taught a lesson about what happens when they had a newspaper party and painted a group of students as rapists. They need to be punished and forced to cry and beg for mercy. They were academic bullies and attackers. They need to start paying their own legal bills so they can learn a major lesson - talk isn't cheap on a campus.

  • ncteacher22 Feb 21, 2008

    This is so ridiculous! The greedy "boys" need to go away! Don't go away mad...just go away! Why sue the school? Sue the chick who started the whole mess!

  • Raptor06 Feb 21, 2008

    Money, money, money...greed, greed, greed. I've heard the names of three lacrosse players and their coach, but I NEVER heard of the others. How were these other "unknowns" hurt in this scandal? They would have to tell me (many of us) they were Duke lacrosse players. This should qualify as a frivolous lawsuit.

  • churchgirl2 Feb 21, 2008

    All through history people have had to deal with alot of thing that were unfair and they were wronged. The stripper should have to bear some of the consequeces. She should be ashame of her actions. Mike Nifong has paid and is still paying. Those boys made did unwise choice that evening. But what happen to them was truly unfair. I feel like the other players are just getting on the band wagon. Enough all ready. One thing we do know that life is not fair. But no one ever said it was.

  • PlanetX Feb 21, 2008

    Way to jump on that gravy train, boys!

  • foetine Feb 21, 2008

    why shouldn't a student be able to sue for a bogus grade because of a bigoted professor? Those kids pay $40,000 a year - and if you get cheated, you should be able to sue Duke like a used car salesman.

  • DukeMoney Feb 21, 2008

    The paper had a story this morning about a Duke student suing because of a failing grade. Sounds like the University is up to its eyeballs in frivolous suits by its students. Does the University create this mindset or do they come here like that?

  • In the meantime... Feb 21, 2008

    I live close to Durham, so I think I'll sue too. I feel like my reputation was also tarnished, as I'm certain that people across the nation think of this area in NC in general when they hear about this case and that makes me FEEL awful. Yup, I'm sensing damages from this for me...

  • gopanthers Feb 21, 2008

    I could be wrong but I've been thinking about this and had to come back to the article. I feel as though if Duke is sued for millions (my opinion which again could be wrong) the ones who are really going to suffer is the rest of the student body. Duke will just raise Tuition AGAIN on all the students still at Duke who can barely afford to pay now and make ends meet. Duke is going to have to make up their loss somehow - No???? Sure Duke probably has insurance to pay for things like this but then the insurance company would just raise the premium on Duke and there lies Duke out money that way as well. Premium would go up. No?????

  • TinyToni Tenderoni Feb 21, 2008

    I agree with some of the other posters....whats up with Crystal not getting any punishment? Why is she being protected? Did she get some kind of a deal we're not aware of? I seriously do not understand.