Local News

Duke lacrosse accuser: 'Something did happen to me'

Posted October 23, 2008 6:00 a.m. EDT
Updated October 23, 2008 10:48 a.m. EDT

— The woman at the center of the Duke lacrosse scandal said she is not lying and that “something did happen to me” the night of March 13, 2006, according to an excerpt from her new book. (Read the full excerpts from the book.)

A news conference by Crystal Gail Mangum is under way now at the Know Bookstore in Durham to promote “The Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum Story," which is being released today.

Mangum is expected to discuss her reasons for writing the memoir and to answer questions about the book, which includes her thoughts about the aftermath of the Duke lacrosse case and her story of being gang raped and beaten by a boyfriend at age 14.

Vincent “Ed” Clark, co-author of the book, released three chapters to the media on Wednesday. To get the material, media outlets had to agree not to release the excerpts until 6 a.m. Thursday.

Clark later asked the media not to release one of the chapters he had given them, "Meeting the Devil," since it included explicit sexual references about Mangum being raped when she was 14.

“Being in the public eye and under so much scrutiny has been difficult,” Mangum wrote in one passage of the book. “Even as I try to move on with my life, I still find it necessary to take one more stand and fight. I want to assert, without equivocation, that I was assaulted. Make of that what you will. You will decide what that means to you because the state of North Carolina saw fit not to look at all that happened the night I became infamous.”

Clark says Mangum did not write the book to rehash the case. In the book, he defends Mangum and said “she is not evil, a drug abuser or a criminal.”

“The purpose of the book is to provide information about Crystal Mangum's life and to shed new light on the subject. We stand by the decision of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper,” Clark said.

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. David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were later indicted on rape and other counts on the basis of her allegations.

Then-District Attorney Mike Nifong dismissed rape charges against the men in December 2006 after Mangum said she was not certain she was raped. He let other charges stand.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed the remaining charges of sexual assault and kidnapping in April 2007 and declared the former players innocent.

Evans , Finnerty and Seligmann asked that Mangum not be pursued criminally because, "We felt sorry for her, and we felt, to some degree, she had been victimized by the process," according to Evans' attorney Joseph Cheshire.

In an interview this past August, Cheshire said Mangum had better tell the truth in her new book.

"My advice would be that if this book comes out and it contains things that are not true about what happened on that evening … it would be my advice to them to make sure she doesn't make one single penny off of it," he said.

The attorney general's office – which never pursued a case against Mangum, saying she likely believed the allegations – has not commented on the book.

“I’m not who they say I am. I’m not lying. Something did happen to me,” Mangum wrote in her book.

A divorced mother of three, Mangum hasn't spoken publicly about the case, other than granting an interview to The News & Observer in the early days of the investigation.

Mangum reveals in her book that CNN’s Soledad O’Brien came to North Carolina this past January and interviewed her for four hours, but CNN never aired the footage. CNN has not returned her calls or explained why the interview did not air, Mangum said.

Mangum writes in explicit detail about being repeatedly beaten and raped at age 14 by a much older boyfriend, whom she calls “Fred.” His friends also gang raped her, she said.

Mangum said she eventually went to a psychiatric hospital to help her cope with post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from the abuse. After two months at the hospital, she returned to Fred, who continued abusing her, she said. She later left him.

Magnum plans to donate $1 from the purchase of each book to help battered women, according to Clark. Mangum, who graduated last spring from NCCU, lives in Raleigh and says she is looking into law or graduate school.