The independent news organization of Duke University

A Year of Lacrosse

MARCH 13th-14th:

The lacrosse team hosts a party at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., for which they hire two strippers. One of the dancers reports that she was sexually assaulted for half an hour by three men in a bathroom.

MARCH 16th:

A search warrant is issued for the house where the incident allegedly took place. Laptops, cameras, cell phones and fingernails are among the items collected from the rented house where three of the senior players lived.

MARCH 23rd:

Forty-six of the 47 members of the men's lacrosse team submit to DNA-testing at the Durham Police Crime Lab. The team's lone black player is the only one not tested because the accuser says the perpetrators were white.

MARCH 25th:

Duke administrators decide to forfeit two lacrosse games hours before the Blue Devils are scheduled to take on Georgetown. They cite underage drinking and the hiring of dancers as the reason for cancelling the games.

MARCH 28th:

Richard Brodhead and Joe Alleva hold a press conference to announce the indefinite suspension of the team's games. A statement by the team's captains "unequivocally" denies the sexual assault and rape allegations. Police release the two 911 tapes recorded the night of the alleged assault. DA Mike Nifong tells the media he is "convinced that there was a rape."

MARCH 30th:

Lawyers for several players speak publically for the first time. They reiterate the players' innocence and criticize the media for what they call one-sided coverage which condemns the players without sufficient evidence.

APRIL 5th:

The administration cancels the remainder of the lacrosse season after police release the contents of a graphic e-mail sent from Ryan McFadyen's account the night of the alleged assault. Head coach Mike Pressler is forced to resign. Brodhead introduces committees assigned to examine the administration's response to the incident, the lacrosse team's culture, campus culture and two other issues.

APRIL 6th:

Professors known as the "Group of 88" sponsor an advertisement in The Chronicle titled "What Does a Social Disaster Sound Like?" describing a culture of sexism and racism at Duke.

APRIL 10th:

State investigators find that no lacrosse team member's DNA matches biological evidence taken from the accuser's body. Nifong insists that he will continue to conduct his investigation. The lack of DNA evidence and newly emerged time-stamped photographs that call the accuser's story into question indicate the tide of the case is starting to turn.

APRIL 15th:

Rev. Jesse Jackson announces that he and his organization will offer the accuser a scholarship to finish her education. He says he hopes she will never again have to dance "to survive."

APRIL 18th:

Sophomores Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann are charged with first degree forcible rape, first degree sexual offense and first degree kidnapping. They turn themselves in and are released on $400,000 bail. Both students are suspended indefinitely from attending class. Nifong says he is still gathering information to make a third indictment.

APRIL 20th:

Kim Roberts, the second dancer, tells the AP that she was not in the bathroom and did not see a rape occur. A taxi driver tells the media that he drove Seligmann to an ATM and a drive-through restaurant before taking the sophomore home. Seligmann has a receipt from the ATM, along with cell phone logs and a record of when he swiped into his dorm to indicate he was not at the party at the time of the alleged attack.

MAY 1st:

The New Black Panthers for Self-Defense stage a demonstration near campus. The committee charged with investigating the culture of the lacrosse team finds that the team has had a history of alcohol abuse, not unlike many other Duke students, and recommends reinstating the team with "appropriate oversight."

MAY 2nd:

Nifong wins the DA democratic primary by capturing more than 45 percent of the vote, edging out former prosecutor Freda Black. Studies indicate that Nifong is aided by strong support from black voters.

MAY 12th:

A second round of DNA testing also reveals no decisive matches with any of the members of the lacrosse team. Some genetic material found on a fake fingernail is consistent with the DNA of one unindicted player.

MAY 15th:

One day after his graduation, David Evans is indicted. After surrendering to police he tells reporters the accusations are "fantastic lies" and reiterates that he and his teammates are innocent in a formal statement.

MAY 18th:

In a pre-trial hearing, Nifong hands over nearly 1,300 pages of evidence to the defense. The players' lawyers file a motion saying that a substantial portion of the evidence is still missing from the file.

JUNE 5th:

Brodhead reinstates the lacrosse program under stricter oversight and names Kevin Cassesse interim head coach. Players pledge to adhere to a self-imposed code of conduct. Duke launches a search for a new head coach.

JULY 21st:

John Danowski, the father of senior attackman Matt Danowski, is introduced as the new men's lacrosse head coach, leaving Hofstra after 21 seasons.


The team takes to the field for its first organized practice in more than five months. The players adopt a motto for the season: "Succisa Virescit," which means, "When cut down, it grows back stronger."


In a pre-trial hearing, Nifong says he has never interviewed the accuser about the events surrounding the alleged attack. The DA also hands over another 2,000 pages of evidence to the defense.


Nifong holds off Lewis Cheek and write-in candidate Steve Monks to win his DA re-election bid. He garners less than a majority of the vote in the hotly-contested race.


Nifong drops the rape charges against the three defendants after the accuser says she can no longer testify with certainty that she was penetrated. Brodhead issues a statement calling for Nifong to step down.


The N.C. Bar accuses Nifong of violating ethics rules during several media interviews he gave shortly after the alleged incident occurred. The DA could lose his license to practice law if he is found guilty.


Duke's administration says Finnerty and Seligmann can return to Duke for spring classes because it's "the right and fair thing to do." Neither defendant returns to campus.


Kyle Dowd, a lacrosse player who graduated in May, files suit against Duke and professor Kim Curtis, claiming that he unfairly received a failing grade in her class.


Nifong asks the State Attorney General for permission to be recused from the Duke lacrosse case. He hires an attorney to defend against the ethical misconduct charges for which he is being investigated.


Nearly a year after their season was suspended, the Duke lacrosse team returns to the field for its first game of the season against Dartmouth. The Blue Devils are ranked in the top 10 in nearly every preseason poll.


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