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Police Attempt To Question Students In Duke Rape Investigation

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DURHAM, N.C. — Both Duke officials and defense attorneys have confirmed that police detectives visited a campus dorm Thursday night to question students in the rape investigation involving Duke lacrosse players.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Duke associate vice president for campus safety and security Aaron Graves said two police detectives spent over an hour at Edens Residence Hall Thursday night in an attempt to question students as part of their ongoing investigation. Graves said that the detectives did not have search warrants but had contacted the Duke University Police Department before their visit.

"Duke reiterates its earlier statements that it is cooperating fully with the police investigation and urges anyone with information pertinent to the events of March 13 to cooperate with the authorities," said Graves.

Defense attorney Kerry Sutton told WRAL that police were trying to question some players Thursday, but that they had no warrant to search players' rooms.

It is not known whom, if anyone, police questioned on Thursday. Edens Residence Hall was home to lacrosse player Ryan McFadyen at the time of the alleged rape. McFadyen's jersey number was signed at the bottom of an e-mail sent shortly after the party that talked about killing and skinning strippers. McFadyen was suspended nearly two weeks ago after the e-mail message was made public.

Durham, University Leaders Meet Again To Discuss Case

Durham community leaders, N.C. Central officials and the president of Duke University held a private meeting Friday morning to discuss the rape investigation. The meeting, which was not open to the public or media, is the second for them in two weeks.

During a brief news conference after the meeting, Duke President Richard Brodhead acknowledged that police attempted to enter dorm rooms occupied by members of Duke University's men's lacrosse team Thursday night. Brodhead cautioned that he was just learning about the effort and seeking details himself.

"I am aware that police attempted to enter those rooms and I am now about to leave this news conference to learn the whole story," Brodhead said when questioned about the possible searches.

No warrants for any Duke dorm rooms were among those returned to the Durham County magistrate's office Friday morning, although police have 48 hours after a warrant's execution to return it, The Associated Press reported. The clerk of court's office was closed for the Good Friday holiday, and Durham police did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Police are investigating allegations that members of the mostly white lacrosse team raped a 27-year-old black woman hired to perform as a stripper at a March 13 team party. The woman, a student at North Carolina Central University, told police she was raped and beaten by three white men around midnight at the off-campus party. The racially charged allegations have led Duke to cancel the highly ranked team's season and accept the resignation of its coach.

DNA test results released Monday support the athletes' denials. None of the 46 samples, defense attorneys said, matched any evidence authorities took from the victim or the house where the assault allegedly occurred.

Both the attorney meeting and the meeting with community leaders comes a day after the release of a tape in which one of the first police officers to respond to the call described the alleged victim as "just passed-out drunk," according to a of radio traffic.

The conversation between the officer and a police dispatcher took place about 1:30 a.m. March 14, about five minutes after a grocery store security guard called 911 to report that a woman in the parking lot would not get out of someone else's car.

The officer gave the dispatcher the police code for an intoxicated person. When asked whether the woman needed medical help, the officer said: "She's breathing and appears to be fine. She's not in distress. She's just passed out drunk."

State's 'Making A Bad Mistake,' Defense Attorney Says

On Friday, several defense lawyers for the lacrosse players met to discuss their next actions in response to the investigation. One by one, lawyers filed out of a Durham office building afterward.

"We're still in a position where we don't know what we're defending against and who we're defending," Sutton said.

Attorneys for all the players continue to maintain that there was no rape at the party, but have said, after meeting with Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong on Thursday, they believe some of their clients' names would be submitted to a grand jury next week.

"That hasn't changed," Sutton said. "If the state's going to proceed, I still think they're making a bad mistake."

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