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Men's lacrosse team faces rape allegations

In the wake of allegations that members of the men's lacrosse team gang-raped, sodomized and strangled a dancer at a March 13 party, Duke is facing community outrage and national media attention.

Forty-six of 47 teammates were DNA-tested by police Thursday. A Durham Police Department spokesperson said the results of the tests will be known by Monday.

President Richard Brodhead said in a statement that not all of the 46 members who were tested attended the party.

Some community members are calling the situation "the perfect storm"-a heated convergence of issues related to race, class and town-gown relations.

The alleged victim is a black exotic dancer who is enrolled in classes at North Carolina Central University; she told police that her attackers are white.

In a search warrant issued March 16 for 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., the site of the alleged assault, police wrote that the woman reported that three men were involved in the alleged offense.

Officials are investigating the reported incident as first-degree forcible rape, common law robbery, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual offense and felonious strangulation.

No charges had been filed as of Sunday night, a Durham Police Department spokesperson said.

The players, however, have denied the accusations, Director of Athletics Joe Alleva said.

Hundreds of community members protested the alleged incident at three different events this weekend. A candlelight vigil Saturday night and a "wake-up call" Sunday morning originated at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., and progressed to nearby student- and administrator-occupied houses.

The University bought the Buchanan residence, along with 14 other properties off East Campus, in late February in response to a long history of disruptive parties and behavior.

Administrators also forced the No. 2 men's lacrosse team to forfeit its games against Georgetown University Saturday and Mount St. Mary's College Tuesday because of known actions at the party, which included hiring two dancers and permitting underage drinking-actions to which members of the team have admitted.

"The judgment of the team members to host and participate in this event is inconsistent with the values of Duke Athletics and Duke University and is unacceptable," Alleva said in a statement.

Several members of the team declined to comment on the situation.

John Burness, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations, said Sunday that he has not talked directly to the players, but he noted that there are "two very different versions of what went on at the party."

"My understanding is that some people who have talked to the players have suggested it would be very much in their advantage to get their side of the story out in one way or another," Burness said.

Brodhead released a statement Saturday urging individuals "to cooperate to the fullest with the police inquiry while we wait to learn the truth."

"Physical coercion and sexual assault are unacceptable in any setting and have no place at Duke," Brodhead said. "The criminal allegations against three members of our men's lacrosse team, if verified, will warrant very serious penalties."

Parents of some members of the team met with University representatives Saturday afternoon.

"The meeting was about keeping the parents informed and focusing on the consequences for their kids and the way we will proceed pending the conclusion of the investigation," said Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs.

He added that the parents were frightened and nervous for their children.

According to the search warrant, two women made an appointment to dance for a group of men at the house March 13. Once they started dancing, shortly after 11:30 p.m., the men became "excited and aggressive."

"We started to cry," the alleged victim said in an interview with The News & Observer. "We were so scared."

Alcohol was involved in the incident, according to a University press release. "The victim and her fellow dancer decided to leave because they were concerned about their safety," the warrant stated.

When the dancers were getting into their vehicle, neighbors said they heard party-goers yell racial slurs at the women. One of the suspects allegedly apologized and convinced the pair to come back inside-shortly thereafter, the two women were separated.

Two men then allegedly pulled the woman into a bathroom, where three men sexually assaulted her for approximately 30 minutes, according to the warrant.

The woman left the residence early March 14. Police declined to comment about the other dancer.

The Chronicle does not identify victims of sex crimes. The three men in question are not being named because no charges have been filed.

Jennie Fant, a resident of 711 Watts St., and library assistant in the Gross Chemistry Building, said she thinks she heard someone batting a ball for an hour against the wall of the Buchanan Boulevard residence the night of the party.

"I don't know if it was to cover the noise," Fant said.

She added that she called 911 probably at about 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. with a noise complaint.

"I've been tempted to call the police and ask what happened that night," Fant said. "I can't help but think I might have prevented it."

Sgt. M.D. Gottlieb, a member of DPD 2 Investigations, said March 20 that residents of the house have been cooperative with DPD in locating any suspects.

The Herald-Sun reported Saturday, however, that the lacrosse players were initially uncooperative with investigators after the search warrant was issued.

The police issued a "non-testimonial" order, which gave police the right to threaten legal action if an individual would not cooperate in the process of gathering evidence.

Forty six of the 47 members of the team reported to the Durham Police Crime Lab to be interviewed, photographed and DNA-tested Thursday afternoon. The one remaining teammate was ruled out as a suspect because he is black, and the alleged victim identified the perpetrators as white men.

The DNA tests were sent to a state crime lab with a letter from Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong to expedite the results.

The March 16 search warrant specified "items to be seized" from the residence, including any DNA evidence available. Police collected laptop computers, cameras, cell phones, a bath rug, five fingernails, a bottle of KY Jelly and $160 of $400 allegedly stolen from the victim, among other things.

The game against Georgetown was cancelled at 11 a.m. Saturday, said Georgetown Assistant Coach Scott Urick.

Several community members staged a protest in front of Koskinen Stadium at 1 p.m. and condemned Duke for not cancelling the game earlier.

Provost Peter Lange said the status of team's season will be decided in the coming days, as the police continue their investigation. "If the University investigates, it could in fact somehow affect the ability to pursue the criminal investigation," he said Sunday to protesters.

Lange added that if the allegations prove to be false, he would support not canceling the season solely because of the under-age drinking and dancers at the party.

He said the University would take appropriate judicial actions with the players if they are found to be guilty.

Greg Beaton and David Graham contributed to this story.


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