Duke Rape Case Typical: DNA Evidence Lacking


After charges of alleged sexual assault were leveled at Duke University lacrosse players, the lack of DNA evidence seemed to indicate that the case would be dismissed. Instead, a Durham, N.C., grand jury indicted Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, both 20, on rape charges, says the Christian Science Monitor. Evidence included a set of plastic fingernails the alleged victim said she lost when she was assaulted. The Monitor says the case is becoming a public gauge of how unimportant DNA evidence can be.

Two-thirds of homicides are solved without DNA evidence. A similar percentage of rape cases also go forward without DNA evidence, said Durham district attorney Mike Nifong. Even without such evidence, one criminologist says getting the case to a jury is the best way for Nifong, who is up for re-election next month, to take the pressure off himself. Grand juries are “a prosecutor’s playpen” as 97 percent of cases result in indictments, says Mike Adams, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. “Racial tensions in Durham are so intense that I do believe [Mr. Nifong] is under strong pressure to move forward with the case,” he says.

Link: http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0419/p02s01-usju.html

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