DURHAM, N.C. — A Duke lacrosse athlete's attorney said Thursday that tempers flared during a party where an exotic dancer claims she was gang-raped and beaten, but contends there is no definitive evidence that there was aggressive behavior in the house.
Attorney Joe Cheshire, who is representing one of the lacrosse captains, said members of the highly ranked lacrosse team hired two dancers for a party on March 13 and paid the women $800 for their services, but that they did not provide the services they promised.
"These two girls were paid a tremendous amount of money to dance for two hours," Cheshire said. "We can show, and will show if we have to, that they danced for only three minutes and decided to take all that money with them."
The alleged victim told police she became fearful that night when the players became aggressive, and that is why she left. She told investigators that the men convinced her and the other dancer to go back inside the house, and that was when she was assaulted.
Cheshire said the men at the party were frustrated and angry, and points to an e-mail message recovered from one player's computer that was contained in a search warrant released Wednesday.
The message, Cheshire felt, was written out of frustration for an evening that did not live up to expectations. The e-mail, he said, shows nothing more.
"Some of the boys felt ripped off and angry," Cheshire said. "And so they were angry. Were the words spoken inappropriate? Yes. Did any rape happen? No."
Police also took other e-mails that also talked about the party, but not in an offensive manner, Cheshire said.
DNA samples were collected from 46 of 47 players. Those results may come back on Friday.
Cheshire 'Absolutely Positive' Who Made Questionable 911 Call
Cheshire's comments came Thursday afternoon after he met for hours with other lacrosse athletes' defense attorneys to discuss the case. Durham investigators took DNA samples from 46 of the 47 team members last month, as well as photographs of each of them for identification purposes and potential evidence in any trial.
The 47th team member, who is black, was not tested because the alleged rape victim said her attackers were white.
The rape accusation, coupled with a 911 call by an unidentified caller attributing racial slurs to lacrosse players, has heightened racial tensions on the Duke campus and in the community, prompting several protests.
The 911 call has raised questions, because the caller's identity remains unknown. At one point during the call, she tells the dispatcher that she and a female friend were driving by the house on Buchanan Boulevard when someone shouted out derogatory comments. Later during the call, she says that she and her friend were walking by the house when the comments were made.
Cheshire said Thursday he has no doubt who made the call.
"We're absolutely positive that the caller was not the accuser, but the other young lady there (at the party with her)," Cheshire said.
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