Local News

DNA Samples Taken From Duke Lacrosse Team After Reported Gang Rape

Posted March 24, 2006 12:36 p.m. EST
Updated January 7, 2007 1:34 p.m. EST

— Police have taken DNA samples from 46 members of the Duke University lacrosse team in hopes of finding at least three men suspected of the rape and beating of a woman hired to dance at a party.

A search warrant said the woman, who nearly was strangled, was hired to dance March 13 at a university-owned house where three members of the team lived.

Duke spokesman John Burness said team members reported to police Thursday to provide DNA samples and to be photographed.

"Duke University is monitoring the situation and cooperating with officials, as are the students," Burness said.

"We are not going to bypass them because of a small inconvenience," said Cpl. David Addison of the Durham Police Department.

Meanwhile, the woman who reported that she was raped said she thought she would be dancing for five men at a bachelor party, but she and another woman were surrounded by dozens. Men shouted racial slurs at the women, both black, she said.

"We started to cry," she said. "We were so scared."

Investigators say the team is sticking together and not talking, so police collected the DNA to help identify the suspects.

"You are looking at one victim brutally raped. If that was someone else's daughter, child, I don't think 46 (tests) would be a large enough number to figure out exactly who did it," Addison said.

While it is rare, one local public defender says it's not illegal and actually a good tactic.

According to search warrants, athletes used false names to hire two exotic dancers. After dancing for the players, the dancers became concerned about their safety and tried to leave. Neighbor Jason Bissey says that's when the party spilled into the street.

"There were no kind words of the things I heard that were directed at the girls," said neighbor Jason Bissey.

But the girls were convinced to stay and police say that's when one of them was raped and beaten for about 30 minutes. The victim called police from a grocery store at 1:22 a.m. on March 14.

The woman had worked for an escort service to help support her two children and pay for classes at N.C. Central University, The Associated Press reported. The night she was attacked was the first time she had been hired to dance for a group.

Police records show officers have been called to the house where the alleged rape occurred four times since September.

Most members of the team have hired the same attorney.

"If what is alleged is true, it's deplorable," Burness said.

So far, the university hasn't taken any action against the team.

"It's very disturbing at one level, but at the same time, until police complete their investigation, we really don't know what happened," Burness said.