Local News

Duke accuser still claims sexual assault

Posted October 23, 2008
Updated October 24, 2008

— More than two years after she accused three Duke University lacrosse players of raping her, the woman at the center of the Duke lacrosse case says she still believes she was attacked.

"Ýes, I am still claiming that a sexual assault happened," Crystal Gail Mangum told reporters Thursday when she appeared at the Know Book Store to promote her new book, "The Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum Story." (Read an excerpt.)

"Many people have tried to use my name and my past to intimidate me, to make me believe that I was a nobody," she said. "The Duke lacrosse case will never define who I am."

Mangum declined to comment, however, when asked if she thought David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were innocent. She also said the extent of her involvement with then-District Attorney Mike Nifong is "not really relevant right now."

Vincent Clark, co-author and publisher of the book, said repeatedly that "the case is closed" and Mangum accepts the conclusions of state prosecutors.

"At this point, it doesn't really matter," she said. "What matters is for people to know my account of what happened and for all of us to learn from it."

Mangum's claim that she was attacked drew criticism from attorneys who represented the former players, and Seligmann's family said they were considering a lawsuit.

"It's a bald-faced lie," said Joseph Cheshire, who represented Evans. "And there's nothing other than the 20 or 25 different stories she's told about it to corroborate it – absolutely nothing, and that's why the attorney general declared these young men innocent."

In a statement, Seligmann's father called Mangum's comments "simply a pathetic attempt to further her need to remain in the public eye at the expense of demonstrably innocent individuals."

"We are presently evaluating all available legal options," Phil Seligmann said. "If Ms. Mangum and those associated with her continue to slander Reade, we will have no choice and will not hesitate to utilize these options."

The three former players filed a federal civil rights lawsuit last year against Nifong, the city of Durham and others, but they have never named Mangum as a defendant in any legal action because they felt sorry for her and thought, to some degree, she had been victimized by the judicial process.

Jim Cooney, who represented Seligmann in the criminal case, said attorneys would review the contents of the book.

"For 2½ years, this woman has attempted to destroy Reade's life," Cooney said. "We aim to put a stop to it."

The 200-page book, published by fire! Films and Books, goes on sale Friday at www.danceforgrace.com and should eventually be available in bookstores and online retailers, Michael Denisoff, a consultant on the project, said.

Clark says the memoir is not a rehash of the scandal that rocked the city of Durham and launched a national debate about race and privilege, but about Mangum's life.

"It's not only about the Duke lacrosse case," Mangum said. "It's not only about my hardships, but it's also about the good times I've had in my life."

"It's important for me to let people know who I am, not only because of the rumors and the awful things that were said about me but because everyone can learn from my situation," she continued.

In a preview of the book released to the media on Wednesday, Mangum writes in explicit detail about being repeatedly beaten and gang raped at age 14 by a much older boyfriend and his friends.

Mangum continues that she eventually went to a psychiatric hospital to help her cope with post-traumatic stress from the abuse, but left after two months to return to her boyfriend. Eventually, she left him.

"This is very difficult for me, but it is something I have to do. God has given me the grace and courage to stand up," Mangum said Thursday. "No one deserves to be sexually assaulted regardless of their profession or regardless of what they have done."

Mangum was a student at North Carolina Central University in March 2006 and also worked as an exotic dancer when she performed at a party hosted by several Duke lacrosse players.

It was at that party, Mangum alleged, that three white members of the team trapped her inside a bathroom and raped and sexually assaulted her. Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann were later indicted on rape and other charges on the basis of her allegations.

Nifong dismissed rape charges against the men in December 2006 after Mangum said she was not certain she was raped. In April 2007, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed the remaining charges and declared the former players innocent.

"She's basically saying two things about that evening," Cheshire said. "No. 1: 'Something happened, and I was assaulted;' and No. 2: 'I've always told the same story.' And both of those are such palpable, obvious lies that it really borders on the pathetic."

The three former defendants have since moved on with their lives. Evans is working in New York; Finnerty and Seligmann transferred from Duke and are playing lacrosse at Loyola College and Brown University, respectively.

"I think they've moved past this," Cheshire said. "Little things like this (book) upset them. They are the victims in this case. But they're fine."

Mangum, meanwhile, graduated with honors from NCCU last spring and says she hopes to get a doctorate from the University of Georgia and eventually open a home for young women.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • ConcernedNCC Oct 24, 2008

    I think the Duke players should sue her for the book money.

  • DeeDee123 Oct 24, 2008

    And just like Santa Claus, just bc you still believe in the story, it doesn't make it true.

    Ms Mangum, I hope you meet karma one day...I hear she can be a nasty lady.

  • beachboater Oct 24, 2008

    "In her new book, Crystal Mangum says she genuinely believed she was going to die when three people allegedly raped her at a March 13, 2006, party hosted by Duke lacrosse players"

    Come on WRAL, it's not allegedly any more, it's false! The thing if over, the boys were declared INNOCENT and no trial was ever held. A little sensationalism I guess.

  • agentm Oct 24, 2008

    i just dont get why wont you people let it go .....there are more important things them some strippers story they both got paid move on....

  • tarheelblue919 Oct 24, 2008

    We wont ever know the entire "real" story of that night. I think its one thing for her to tell her side of the story, but if you go to www.danceforgrace.com she has on the interview excerpt, martin luther king, african americans hanging from a tree....i just dont see where that has relation to her story....the marketing shes doing is more about race then anthing. i dunno about you guys but i'm tired of hearing about the duke case, and i'm dag-um tired of still listening to the race issues....if crystal is so educated, then she should have enough sense to know that society needs to respect and learn history but be wise enough to move forward to a brighter future.

  • Moabit Oct 24, 2008

    WRAL is one of the stations that will not let it go. I feel that they show some news just to stirr something up.

  • Moabit Oct 24, 2008

    Where is the Reverend? Does he not have something to say about this?

  • whatevah Oct 24, 2008

    Its funny, people complain about WRAL airing a story like this. Shame on WRAL huh? why ya'll still posting to it? Its not even on front page anymore.

  • 68_polara Oct 24, 2008

    Justin T. if one shred of evidence supported her story it would have been found. Nifong pored all of Durham's investigative resources into prosecuting these boys. In the mean time when someone breaks in to you home while your at work the Durham Police don't bother to even really investigate it because it just a property crime and there are to many in this area to allocate any real resources to such crimes. Makes you mad when you've seen such resources squandered to trying to prosecute the innocent for some power hungry DA trying use race to get elected. So much damage has been done to this city in regards to race relation, respect for the police and prosecutors, and image. And yet the one who started this entire mess continues to keep it alive.

  • imacopicemanPWNT Oct 24, 2008

    "I'm glad I'm white. That way I can feel confident that when I go to court I'll get a fair trial and have a bunch of hayseeds on the jury who look at me and give me the benefit of the doubt." JustinT.

    Race bait much?

    You definately haven't been paying attention to this case. Go do some reading:

    Results 1 - 10 of about 32,900 for "Duke Lacrosse hoax" (0.27 seconds)

    "Just remember that if your daughter or even a female friend lost a trial to some rich white boys and still said she was raped..." JustinT.

    Again, you're not paying attention, THERE WAS NEVER A TRIAL! Since NC is a proven safe haven for false accusers, maybe you will get to experience what the LAX players went through.