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Attorney says Nifong won't pay lacrosse players

Three former Duke University lacrosse players can proceed with their civil rights lawsuit against former District Attorney Mike Nifong, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled Tuesday.

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DURHAM, N.C. — An attorney for Durham's former prosecutor says the three former Duke University lacrosse players his client sought to prosecute on rape charges should not expect any money as a result of a civil rights lawsuit they filed last year.

"These creditors, certainly their counsel, have to know they will never collect so much as $35 from Mike Nifong," James Craven said in a 20-page federal court document filed Friday. "They must know that, yet still they come."

Craven says the matter should be handled in bankruptcy court instead.

Nifong won indictments against Collin Finnerty, David Evans and Reade Seligmann in 2006 after a stripper, hired to perform at a team party, reported being raped. The case unraveled in the face of the accuser's constantly changing story and a lack of evidence.

The state prosecutors who eventually took over the case dropped all charges and declared the players innocent victims of Nifong's "tragic rush to accuse." He was later disbarred for his handling of the case and spent a night in jail for lying to a judge.

The three men filed the lawsuit in October, alleging Nifong, the city of Durham and others conspired to keep a weak case alive as Nifong faced election in the Democratic primary for district attorney in 2006.

Nifong filed for bankruptcy in January, which temporarily protected him against litigation, but a U.S. bankruptcy judge later ruled the lawsuit could proceed.

Charles Davant IV, an attorney representing Evans and Finnerty, had no comment Friday afternoon about the latest filing from Nifong. However, he said attorneys for the players will respond in their own court filings, due Sept. 15. David Rudolf, an attorney for Seligmann, also had no comment, saying he had not yet seen Craven's papers.


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