The office of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper released a report on the Duke lacrosse case Friday saying there was no basis for continued prosecution of the case.
The 21-page report details the work done by special prosecutors James Coman and Mary Winstead after Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong asked the attorney general's office to take the case Jan. 12. It also establishes a detailed timeline of events the night of March 13, 2006, the night the assault was alleged at a party off East Campus and reaffirms the innocence of the three men who were indicted in the case.
"In meetings with the special prosecutors, the accusing witness, when recounting the events of that night, changed her story on so many important issues as to give the impression that she was improvising as the interviews progressed, even when she was faced with irrefutable evidence that what she was saying was not credible," the report states.
Nifong charged Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, Trinity '06-three members of the 2005-2006's men's lacrosse team-with rape, sexual assault and kidnapping in spring 2006. Rape charges were dropped prior to Nifong's request to surrender the case. The district attorney is now facing possible disbarment by the North Carolina State Bar in an ethics inquiry related to the case.
John Burness, senior vice president for government affairs and public relations, released a statement Friday in response to report.
"Attorney General Cooper's Summary of Conclusions that was released today documents the absence of any credible evidence that would justify any conclusion in this case other than the one Mr. Cooper announced a few weeks ago-that David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann are innocent of all charges brought against them last spring by District Attorney Nifong," he wrote.
Evidence found during Coman and Winstead's investigation further undermined an already weak case for the prosecution, the report states.
"The State's cases rested primarily on a witness whose recollection of the facts of the allegations was imprecise and contradictory," it said. "This alone would have made it difficult for a prosecutor to prove the allegations. However with additional evidence uncovered in the new investigation, it was clear that there was no credible evidence that these crimes occurred at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. in Durham that night."
The special prosecutors met with 47 witnesses, including 17 members of the lacrosse team and two non-players who were at the party. They examined more than 7,000 documents and 600 photographs related to the case.
They also interviewed Mangum by phone and in person. Her story changed across those meetings and she was also under the influence of prescription drugs during an April 4 meeting with Coman and Winstead.
Much of the report focuses on previously known inconsistencies in the story of Crystal Mangum, the accuser in the case, and flaws in the method of Nifong's chief investigator.
Though the report focuses primarily on problems with the credibility of Mangum, the accuser in the case, and not on Nifong, Burness emphasized that results from the State Bar's investigation of the controversial district attorney have not yet been released.
"We now await the N.C. State Bar's review of the charges against Mr. Nifong for his conduct in this case," he said.
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