Local News

Faith in Justice System, Praise for Players Follow Dismissal

Posted April 11, 2007 6:01 p.m. EDT
Updated November 28, 2007 4:17 p.m. EST

— Numerous officials issued comments Wednesday following the dismissal of charges against three men who had been charged in the Duke lacrosse sexual abuse case.

One came from Mike Pressler, who under pressure resigned his position as coach of the Duke lacrosse team last year when the charges were filed and the season was suspended. He is now coaching at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I.

"Today is the celebration of the two words we’ve attached our lives to for almost 13 months – the truth. It is the same truth today as it was a year ago. Our story has not changed and today’s announcement is long, long overdue," Pressler said in a statement that Bryant distributed..

"I am so proud of their resolve, their strength, and the first-class manner with which they handled this entire episode," Pressler said of David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, the students over whom the charges loomed for more than a year.

At Duke, university President Richard Brodhead issued a statement saying, "I join with everyone who cares about justice in welcoming the North Carolina State Attorney General’s announcement that the remaining charges have been dropped."

"From the outset, I have been careful to note that these students were entitled to the presumption of innocence, and I looked to the legal system to determine the merit of the charges," Brodhead said. he added, "I trust the State Bar’s review will be equally thorough so that we can understand the district attorney’s conduct in this case."

Duke, he said, "won’t be afraid to go back and learn what we can from this difficult experience."

From the state NAACP offices, state conference President William J. Barber II issued a statement saying, "We respect the integrity of the Attorney General’s investigation and supported the involvement of special prosecutors.

"If his office believes the state lacks sufficient evidence to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that all the elements of each crime took place, then it is the State’s constitutional duty to dismiss the charges. We trust that the SBI has left no stone unturned in the investigation of this case," Barber said.

The Duke case could produce more care in prosecutions, Barber suggested.

"The NAACP is mindful of that fact that there have been numerous cases where African-Americans and poor defendants were only finally acquitted after years of serving time and being wrongfully prosecuted....  We must always be conscious as a state and community to ensure that justice is properly meted out for all citizens," Barber said.

Elsewhere at Duke, Sports Director Joe Alleva said, "I am extremely proud of the way the members of our lacrosse program handled the multitude of distractions – many of them unwarranted – with dignity and class for the past 13 months."

North Carolina Central University also issued a statement. Crystal Mangum, the woman who accused the players, was a student there, and Chancellor James H. Ammons said, "This matter has caused anguish for all parties involved; however, as a result, collaborations between North Carolina Central University and Duke University have grown stronger. NCCU and Duke engaged in some very important discussions and forums that enhanced our tolerance and raised awareness regarding race, class, sexual assault and athletic privilege."

The North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys noted that prosecutors have to balance numerous issues in deciding how to handle cases.

"We are confident that Deputy Attorney[s] General [Jim] Coman and Mary Winstead have diligently conducted their analysis of the Duke lacrosse cases and acted accordingly," the organization said.