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Durham settles with wrongly accused Duke lacrosse players

Eight years after Durham police arrested three Duke University lacrosse players on sexual assault charges that were later determined to be unfounded, the city and the Durham Police Department have settled a lawsuit with the players.

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Duke Lacrosse Legal
DURHAM, N.C. — Eight years after Durham police arrested three Duke University lacrosse players on sexual assault charges that were later determined to be unfounded, the city and the Durham Police Department have settled a lawsuit with the players.

Under terms of the settlement, Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans will receive no money. Instead, the city will make a $50,000 grant to the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission.

Crystal Mangum, who was hired to perform as a stripper at a March 2006 lacrosse team party, accused the three players of attacking her in a bathroom of the house on North Buchanan Street where the party was held. The trio was later indicted on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual offense.

The case unraveled, however, in the face of Mangum's constantly changing story and a lack of evidence.

The Attorney General's Office eventually took over the case, dropped all charges and declared the players innocent victims of then-Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong's "tragic rush to accuse."

The players sued the city and Nifong in 2007, claiming that the prosecutor and investigators intentionally concealed critical DNA evidence and produced a misleading DNA report.

"As the city has maintained throughout, it believes that its police officers had an obligation to investigate the allegations made by Crystal Mangum in 2006 and that no police officer nor any other city employee engaged in improper conduct," Durham officials said in a statement Friday.

Durham officials noted that Nifong wasn't a city employee and was subsequently disbarred and jailed for his actions in the Duke lacrosse case.

"When Attorney General Roy Cooper announced his decision in April 2007 to dismiss all charges against Mr. Evans, Mr. Seligmann and Mr. Finnerty, and declared them innocent of the charges for which they had been indicted, the city expressed its concurrence in Attorney General Cooper’s decision," the statement reads. "Today, the city reaffirms that it fully concurs with the attorney general’s decision to dismiss the charges and with his conclusion that Mr. Evans, Mr. Seligmann and Mr. Finnerty were innocent of the charges for which they were indicted."

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Matthew Burns, Web Editor

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