Three former Duke lacrosse players are innocent of the charges they’ve battled for a year, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said yesterday, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. Cooper accused Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong of “a rush to accuse.” Sexual assault and kidnapping charges were dismissed against Dave Evans, 24, Reade Seligmann, 21, and Collin Finnerty, 20. “We believe that these cases were the tragic result of a rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations,” Cooper said. “Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.”
“This case is a study of what is and can be wrong with our justice system,” said Joseph B. Cheshire V, the Raleigh lawyer representing Evans. “The Duke lacrosse case was prosecuted by a man who had not a care in the world about justice, but only himself and his personal agenda.” After a March 13, 2006, spring break party, Crystal Gail Mangum, an escort service dancer, reported being gang-raped at the home that three lacrosse team captains shared. Her story changed with every telling, even during interviews in recent weeks with Jim Coman and Mary Winstead, the special prosecutors Cooper assigned to the case in mid-January.