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Durham DA Blames His Office For Mistaken Dismissal Of Child Rape Case

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DURHAM, N.C. — Durham County's district attorney says a clerical error is to blame for charges against an accused child rapist being dismissed by his office.

In February 2004, police arrested and charged Norman Brooks in the alleged molestation and rape of Bobby Parker's young daughter. But in September 2005, the charges against Brooks were dropped and the case was dismissed.

"This is clearly the fault of this office," said Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong.

The case was originally assigned to Assistant District Attorney Tracey Cline, who was also handling another case against Brooks that was considered to be much weaker than the sexual abuse case. The district attorney's office was planning to drop the weaker of the two cases.

"In the course of entering the dismissal, inadvertently the wrong number was placed on the dismissal," Nifong said.

Then, Cline went on medical leave, and Parker was told that his daughter's case would be reassigned to Assistant District Attorney Jan Paul.

But when Parker called Paul last week, he said she told him that she was not aware of the case.

"I was like, 'Did you lose the file? Why don't you know anything about the case?' I just couldn't understand," Parker said.

Nifong said Paul had been assigned to many cases, but Parker's daughter's case was not one of them.

"Unfortunately, we made a second mistake," Nifong said.

Nifong, however, insists the mistakes will not affect the prosecution of the case. It has since been assigned a new prosecutor and Nifong assures WRAL that it will go before the grand jury for indictment on Tuesday.

Still, Parker has little faith left and wonders if his daughter's case will ever make it to court.

"It's my job to protect her and take care of her and I was thinking the district attorney's office was going to do their job, too," he said.

As for his daughter, Parker said she has been in therapy and is doing well.


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