::Charges Dropped In Duke Lacrosse Case
By R. Gregg, The Raleigh Chronicle
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
UPDATED AT 4:09PM
RALEIGH - At a press conference attended by media from all over the country including CBS News anchor Katie Couric, NC Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today at 2:30pm that all remaining charges are being dropped against three former Duke lacrosse players Reade Seligmann, David Evans and Collin Finnerty.
"The result is that these cases are over, and no more criminal proceedings will occur," said Cooper.
The announcement at the RBC Center Press Conference room came as no surprise to many after the Attorney General's office took over the prosecution of the case at the request of embattled Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, who is facing ethics charges by the NC State Bar.
Cooper proclaimed that after a thorough investigation by the NC Department of Justice, they believed the three men were "innocent."
"We believe that these cases were the tragic result of a rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations," he said. "Based on significant inconsistencies between the evidence and various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of all charges."
In addition, in the question and answer session, Cooper described Nifong's actions as those of a "rogue prosecutor." During his main speech, Cooper said that he would recommend a state law that would allow the state to take over local prosecutions in certain circumstances to keep such an event from happening again.
"This would give the courts a new tool to deal with a prosecutor who needs to step away from a case where justice demands [it]," he added.
"We need checks and balances to protect the innocent," said Cooper. "This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor."
Cooper said that despite "inconsistencies" in the alleged rape victim's statements, there would not be any charges filed against her. He also said that his staff came to the conclusion that the alleged victim actually believed her own version of events, but they could find absolutely no evidence to confirm any of it.
"We approached this case with the understanding that rape and sexual assault victims often have some inconsistencies in their accounts of a traumatic event," said Cooper. "However, in this case the inconsistencies were so significant and so contrary to the evidence that we have no credible evidence that an attack occurred in the house that night."
Cooper said that in the next week, his office would be releasing more details about the findings of AG attorneys and investigators in the case.
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Student's Press Conference
The three students and their attorneys are holding a press conference this afternoon in Raleigh and the Chronicle will have a separate story on those statements later today.
Check back on our front page for that upcoming story. ::