Toxicology Tests Not Done On Accuser In Duke Lacrosse Rape Case
Posted June 23, 2006 10:59 a.m. EDT
Updated January 7, 2007 12:01 p.m. EST
DURHAM, N.C. — Toxicology results on a woman who says she was raped were not included in an additional 536 pages of evidence that Durham's lead prosecutor handed over Thursday to three Duke lacrosse players' defense attorneys because he said no test report exists.
"I thought when you went, and somebody looked like they were drunk or on drugs or something that somebody would do toxicology," said defense attorney Joe Cheshire, who represents one of the indicted players, David Evans. "I mean, I'm just surprised they didn't, that's all."
Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md., as well as Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., and Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., are accused of raping an exotic dancer at a lacrosse-team party in March. All three face charges of first-degree rape, assault and kidnapping in connection with the alleged incident.
Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong told the court on Thursday he did not have a toxicology report to turn over, although he later refused to say if such a test was performed.
UNC Hospitals sexual-assault nurse examiner Emilia Frederick told WRAL that toxicology tests are typically done when a rape victim cannot remember certain events.
"We only do toxicology if the victim's story is highly suspicious," Frederick said.
Toxicology tests were phased out in the mid-'80s as standard procedures. Frederick said that is because defense attorneys often use the information against victims.
"It just made the trauma worse," Frederick said.
In the Duke case, a toxicology report could be relevant because in the early-morning hours of March 14, a Durham police officer told a police dispatch operator that the accuser was "breathing and appears to be fine. She's not in distress. She's just passed-out drunk."
In a police report, the officer said the alleged victim could not walk or talk. Police then took her to the Durham Center Access for involuntary commitment. The facility offers substance abuse and mental health services. Once there, police said the woman told workers she had been raped.
A spokeswoman for the center told WRAL when people need medical help, it is standard procedure to send them to the hospital. No toxicology tests are done at the center.
Even though an investigator may request a toxicology screening on a victim, ultimately, the decision is up to the nurses and doctors.