Dancer made prior allegation
CREEDMOOR, N.C. - The exotic dancer who said she was raped by three members of the Duke men's lacrosse team made similar accusations in 1996, officials confirmed Friday.
The resurfaced case-which was never prosecuted-has put the accuser's credibility and District Attorney Mike Nifong's judgment under intensified scrutiny as Tuesday's DA primary election approaches.
The dancer-then 18 years old-told a police officer Aug. 18, 1996 in Creedmoor she had been raped by three men in June 1993, according to a police document.
The victim's father contradicted her account, telling the Raleigh News & Observer Thursday that no sexual assault had occurred.
"This is absolutely stunning... insofar as this appears to be a false and fabricated allegation," said attorney Robert Ekstrand, who is representing a group of lacrosse players who have not been charged. "This prosecution needs to end soon, and it has lost all credibility."
But Nifong-who will face primary opponents Keith Bishop and Freda Black in the first election of his career-said the case against indicted sophomore players Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty is still strong.
"All the facts are not yet known, and many of the so-called 'facts' that have been reported and commented on are simply wrong," Nifong wrote in a statement Friday.
Some critics have accused Nifong of publicizing the racially charged case in order to curry the favor of Durham County's 90,000-plus black residents.
Of the DA candidates, Black and Nifong are white, and Bishop is black.
Relatives of the accuser have told the media she has considered dropping the current case-a move that would echo her decision not to pursue the 1996 accusations.
The officer who took the woman's report 10 years ago asked her to write a detailed timeline of the night's events and bring the account back to the police.
"Apparently she never returned," Granville County DA Sam Currin said.Creedmoor Police Chief Ted Pollard said that although he was chief at the time of the allegations, they were never brought to his attention.
"If the accused elected not to pursue the case, that's the end of it," he added.
The allegations were never referred to the DA's office, Pollard said at a press conference outside Creedmoor City Hall Friday.
"We've got no record of this," said Assistant DA Cindy Bostic, who was with the DA's office at the time of the first accusations. "But that's not atypical. If charges weren't filed, we're not going to have a record of it."
Bostic called the police report "vague," adding that police often request a chronological statement of events in cases for which they need more information.
Pollard learned about the earlier alleged rape when an Associated Press reporter contacted him Thursday evening.
Police staff hand-searched through years of files before they found the report of the alleged 1996 rape.
Nifong said rape shield laws will prevent the previous allegations from being aired in the courtroom, but defense attorneys asserted their right to use the 1996 case to try to impeach the accuser.
"This is not evidence of prior sexual activity as the rape shield statute contemplates," Ekstrand said. "Instead it is evidence of her relationship with the truth."