Local News

Nifong Wants Civil Lawsuit Dismissed

Posted December 20, 2007 2:51 p.m. EST
Updated December 21, 2007 7:51 a.m. EST

— Mike Nifong's attorney said Wednesday that he plans to file a motion to dismiss a civil a lawsuit filed by the three former Duke lacrosse players the former district attorney sought to prosecute last year.

Durham attorney Jim Craven said they anticipate filing the request within the next three weeks.

Jan. 15 is the deadline for defendants named in the 155-page complaint to respond to the allegations.

Collin Finnerty, David Evans and Reade Seligmann filed the federal lawsuit Oct. 5 alleging Nifong, the city of Durham, former police Chief Steve Chalmers and several police detectives and officers conspired to keep a weak case alive as Nifong faced election in the Democratic primary for district attorney.

Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann are asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees and numerous changes in the way the Durham Police Department handles criminal investigations.

Several other defendants are expected to also file motions to dismiss the suit.
Finnerty, Evans and Seligmann were charged in April and May 2006 after exotic dancer Crystal Mangum claimed she was raped at an off-campus party hosted by lacrosse players.

Even as the case unfolded, Nifong pursued charges of first-degree rape, kidnapping and sexual assault until last December, when he dismissed the rape charge against the three men.

Less than a month later, he recused himself from the case and asked for a special prosecutor to handle it.

In April, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped the case, saying his special prosecutors had found no grounds to proceed.

Three other members of the 2006 men's lacrosse team have also filed a federal lawsuit, accusing dozens of defendants of fraud, negligence and conspiracy for pursuing the case despite evidence that Mangum's allegations were false.