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Defense Questions Prosecutor's Comments About Exam In Duke Case

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DURHAM, N.C. — Attorneys representing a player charged in the Duke lacrosse rape case questioned Thursday whether District Attorney Mike Nifong read a report about a medical exam performed on the accuser before talking about it with reporters.

"On March 29, 2006, Mr. Nifong claimed to have read a medical report that, according to discovery, was not printed until March 30, 2006, or retrieved by law enforcement pursuant to Mr. Nifong's own subpoena until April 5, 2006," read the filing from lawyers Joseph Cheshire and Bradley Bannon.

The attorneys, who represent Duke graduate David Evans, asked for any notes or reports about the medical exam that Nifong might have reviewed before April 5.

Nifong's office said he would not comment about the filing. He has generally refused to talk about the case since early April, after initially speaking openly about the investigation after it became public in late March.

According to the defense motion, Nifong made several comments in TV and newspaper interviews about the medical exam before March 30. In those interviews, Nifong said the exam indicated a sexual assault took place. According to the defense, the only injuries noted by the doctor who performed the 33exam were "three small scratches" on her right knee and ankle.

The defense motion also states Nifong said the attackers might have worn condoms, even though the accuser said during the exam her attackers did not use condoms.

The exam was performed in the hours after a March 13 team party, where the accuser and another woman were hired to perform as strippers. The next month, a grand jury indicted team members Reade Seligmann of Essex Fells, N.J., and Collin Finnerty of Garden City, N.Y., on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual assault. Evans, a team co-captain from Bethesda, Md., was indicted on the same charges in May.

Attorneys for all three have strongly proclaimed their clients' innocence.

The allegations led the university to cancel the remainder of the season for the highly ranked team, which reached the national-title game in 2005. The team's coach also resigned.

Meanwhile, an Internet blog, "Friends of Duke University" that supports the suspects in the case have posted a letter to send to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper. The letter cites seven reasons why it believes Nifong should be removed from the case and a special prosecutor appointed.