Thursday, March 22, 2007

FOX News: Charges to be Dismissed, Civil Suits to Follow

FOX News is reporting that all remaining charges against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans will be dismissed, possibly as early as tomorrow. Paul Caulfield of Inside Lacrosse magazine, citing multiple sources, made the revelation in an interview with Megyn Kelly this morning. As additional information becomes available, this post will be updated. For more immediate updates and discussion, visit the LS Forum.

Update:

FOX News now has an article available at their website reaffirming their televised report that charges may be dismissed as early as Friday. The article also indicates that civil lawsuits are expected to quickly follow formal the announcement of the end of the Hoax.

Report: All Charges Against Duke Lacrosse Players to Be Dropped Soon

"The remaining charges against three Duke University lacrosse players originally indicted for rape may be dropped sometime within the next few days, according to a report.

Inside Lacrosse Magazine writer Paul Caulfield told FOX News on Thursday that several sources have revealed to him that the assault and attempted kidnapping charges still pending against Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y.; Dave Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md.; and Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Falls, N.J., will soon be dropped.

Caulfield said his sources include more than just attorneys for the defense.

"There is no case here and they will be hearing a dismissal in the coming days," Caulfield told FOX News.

There have been rumors that the families of Finnerty, Seligmann and Evans may be considering civil lawsuits against Nifong, Duke or the state if it turns out the accuser's story doesn't pan out and Nifong is found to be guilty of mishandling the case.

"This is something that will wait in the wings. Once the criminal case is dropped, we are going to see this and I believe we'll see it quite quickly," said Caulfield, a former prosecutor.

Update:

An untitled, and apparently unfinished, article appearing on the News & Observer website indicates, or at least anticipates, that charges have been dropped.
XXXXX, From Staff Reports

"The move ends the criminal case against three former Duke University lacrosse players who were accused of a sexual assault on an escort service dancer at a lacrosse team party in March.

"While today’s dismissal marks the end of the criminal case, the legal actions are far from over. Nifong will face disciplinary action at the State Bar, which is likely to file extra charges related to the withheld DNA evidence. The three accused players could sue Nifong, the accuser and the Durham Police Department for violating their civil rights. Duke University and others could be named in lawsuits.

"Future legal actions will center on a trio of questions: What did Nifong know? When did he know it? And why did he take the case get as far as he did?"
Update:

The News & Observer has published an explanation for the premature posting of its unfinished article prepared in anticipation of charges being dropped.
An unpublished draft of a News & Observer story about the case against three former Duke University lacrosse players appeared on at least one Web site Thursday after it was picked up in Internet searches.

The N&O began preparing the draft after Fox News reported that the state Attorney General’s Office intended to dismiss charges of assault and attempted kidnapping against the three former players.

Editors instructed a reporter for newsobserver.com to prepare a story to be published if the charges were dropped. The reporter filed a draft with “XXXXX” in place of a headline. The draft began: “DURHAM — news in a sentence here. The second sentence should say whether the case is totally over now, The move ends the criminal case...”

The draft was filed in the publishing system of newsobserver.com under an embargo, meaning it could not appear on the paper’s Web site until a staffer attached a time and date for publication. But that action gave the story an Internet address, allowing it to appear in Internet searches.

Although the N&O states that the "unpublished" article did not appear on its website and was not given a time and date for publication, a review of a mirrored page created by an industrious blog hooligan appears to indicate otherwise.

"Published: Mar 22, 2007 11:20 AM"
Click to view the "unpublished" article as it appeared originally.

Update:
.
WTVD is reporting that Attorney General Roy Cooper's office is denying the claims that resolution of the Hoax is imminent.
Heightened Anticipation of Duke LAX Decision

"
From anonymous tips phoned into Triangle newsrooms to website postings, the public anticipation of a decision on the Duke Lacrosse case appears to have reached a fever pitch. The Attorney General's Office has confirmed its investigation would wrap up soon.

"Today FOX News is reporting sources close to the case say an announcement to dismiss charges against all three former players will be made Friday. However, Attorney General Roy Cooper's office is refuting that claim.

"We don't expect to make an announcement tomorrow," said Spokeswoman Noelle Talley. "Our review of the case, including reviewing documents and conducting interviews, is continuing."

"There has been wide speculation about the future of the case since Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong asked the Attorney General's Office to step in. Special prosecutors James Coman and Mary Winstead have spent weeks pouring over thousands of pages of legal documents. They've met with defense attorneys, District Attorney Mike Nifong and key witnesses including the alleged victim and the defendants."

Update:
.
FOX News is reporting that Crystal Mangum has been summoned today to meet with Roy Cooper's special prosecutors (LS Forum .) Megyn Kelly is also reporting that member's of the accuser's family are anticipating dismissal of the charges (LS Forum).
.
Update:
.
Defendant Nifong's attorney, David Freedman, appeared on Court TV with Catherine Crier. Continuing his public relations effort on behalf of his client, Freedman laid blame for the decision to withhold exonerating DNA evidence at the feet of co-conspirator Dr. Brian Meehan. Pointing to Meehan's '60 Minutes' interview, Freedman claimed that there was no agreement between the DA and the DNA expert to hide the evidence of actual innocence from the victims of Nifong's hijacked Hoax. Under oath, however, Dr. Meehan testified to the contrary at the December 15, 2006 Hoax hearing. For more details on Crier's coverage, please visit the LS Forum.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Drudge has now picked up the story.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope the report is accurate.

It's way past time for this.

Anonymous said...

Yes, my thoughts are with the Families.

wayne fontes said...

The story said "But DNA from other individuals was found in the accuser's underwear, among other places".

I commend the writer for the delicate way he phrased that.

Anonymous said...

XXXXX

Nifong, shown in October, faces several accusations.
Staff File Photo by Shawn Rocco
Story Tools Printer Friendly Email to a Friend
Enlarge Font Decrease Font
More Crime & Safety 733 charged with DWI over weekend
Law damages teen inmates, advocates say
Town wants to keep second ambulance
Search of suspect's home yields 4 knives
Gang information to be presented
Day-care kid's borrowed cap spills crack

Most Popular Stories

Last 24 hours

Title run, and they're done?
Rural East losing people
Edwardses to speak on Elizabeth's health at noon
Pack will be back
Day-care kid's borrowed cap spills crack

Last 7 days

Missing Boy Scout found alive
Good job, good life, all gone
Cartoon: March 1, 2007: Coach Kommercial II: Roy Williams Strikes Back
Pack rocks Reynolds in second round
Woman shoots herself at medical office


Ad Links Buy a link »

From Staff Reports
DURHAM - news in a sentence here. The second sentence should say whether the case is totally over now, The move ends the criminal case against three former Duke University lacrosse players who were accused of a sexual assault on an escort service dancer at a lacrosse team party in March.
David Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md., Collin Finnerty, 20, of Garden City, N.Y. and Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., each faced a sexual offense and kidnapping charge.

The case rocketed to international attention as a story about the collision of race, class and gender at a prestigious private Southern university popular with Northern students. As it became increasingly clear that Nifong built a shaky case on scant evidence, the story emerged of an embattled and embittered district attorney whom many believed had set aside justice in his quest to win an election.

The pressure against Nifong and the case intensified late in 2006. On Dec. 15, a private DNA expert hired by Nifong testified that he and Nifong agreed in April to withhold DNA evidence favorable to players. On Dec. 22, Nifong had dropped a rape charge after the accuser said she wasn’t sure of if she had been raped. On Dec. 28, the N.C. State Bar filed ethics charges against Nifong, the first time that the regulatory agency has prosecuted a prosecutor during an ongoing criminal case. And on Dec. 29, Nifong received an unprecedented rebuke from his peers when the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys called on Nifong to remove himself from the case. Nifong asked the state Attorney General to take over the case on Jan. 12. Attorney General Roy Cooper appointed two special prosecutors, James Coman and Mary Winstead, to oversee the case. Since January, they have conducted their own investigation, reviewing documents from the case and interviewing witnesses.

While today’s dismissal marks the end of the criminal case, the legal actions are far from over. Nifong will face disciplinary action at the State Bar, which is likely to file extra charges related to the withheld DNA evidence. The three accused players could sue Nifong, the accuser and the Durham Police Department for violating their civil rights. Duke University and others could be named in lawsuits.

Future legal actions will center on a trio of questions: What did Nifong know? When did he know it? And why did he take the case get as far as he did?

From the beginning, the three lacrosse team captains who lived at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. told police the accusations were lies. The captains, including Evans, voluntarily gave statements and their DNA to the police support their claims of innocence. They offered to take polygraph tests.

Despite that early cooperation, Nifong and police officers forcefully told the public that the team had put up a wall of silence. At first, the lacrosse players said nothing to reporters. Nifong, who was in the middle of a tight electoral campaign, declared that a racially motivated gang rape had occurred and called the lacrosse players hooligans.

“I’m not going to allow Durham’s view in the minds of the world to be a bunch of lacrosse players at Duke raping a black girl from Durham,” Nifong said at an April 13 candidate’s forum.

The case began on the afternoon of March 13, when Duke lacrosse players and a few others gathered at the off-campus house for an evening of drinking and partying. Sometime before midnight, two escort service workers arrived to perform at the party. The players and their lawyers have said that the performance stopped within a few minutes. The women shut themselves in a bathroom, and then left, they said. As the women left, the second dancer, Kim Roberts, exchanged taunts with the men. Someone shouted racial slurs as the women left. Roberts called police and drove the accuser to a nearby grocery store. By then, the accuser seemed to have passed out. An officer found the woman unresponsive, but believed she was pretending to be unconscious. He took her to an intake center.

Anonymous said...

Will, I hope this means Reade can move on to Harvard or Brown(a slap in the face to regional school Duke) and Collin will hoop up with agood school. Bet it will be Hosfa (how do you spell that school) - better yet to an Ivy really would rub Dukes face in the dirt.

Anonymous said...

I hope this is true for the sake of the three young men and their families.
I can't wait to hear the members of the Group of 88 say how relieved they are for the sake of their students, whom they nurture, and Duke, that they cherish, above all. (that's sarcasm!)

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Just read the news on Fox myself that charges may be dropped! Oh, lord, I hope Reade, Dave, Colin and their families sue the socks off Nifong and everyone associated with this filthy case (and I'm not just talking Crystal's underwear).

But most of all, I hope they sue the socks off Duke and the Gang of 88 for not only applauding that filth but adding to it themselves.

gak said...

fox news said
"DNA tests never conclusively proved that anyone on the team assaulted her. But DNA from other individuals was found in the accuser's underwear, among other places."

They still have to put that cloud over the heads of the 3. They did conclusively prove that "anyone on the team" did not assault her.

gak said...

WTVD said
"James Coman and Mary Winstead are known as top flight attorneys," Knudsen said. "I know that whatever decision they reach about whether to prosecute the case or drop the case, it's going to be based upon their experience and not on anything else."

I would have hoped that EVIDENCE would have played a factor, I guess not.

Anonymous said...

I wish all the LAX players and their families the very best. I never doubted their innocense.
Of course, the enablers will continue to say Crystal was tired of fighting to prove her case.and it was too emotionally draining (barf!).
Good Luck!

Howard said...

Not so fast, Rickey Bobbie. If we have learned anything from the prior defiant statements from Group of 88, they do not intend to let a "racist white privilged class" to walk away scott free while a poor minority woman suffers various mental anguishes.

It's the 88 who will sue. They won't need any facts at all. They will claim hurt feelings (the current University victimhood explaination for striking out), various brutalities and so on. They probably have at least a few Duke lawyers among them who will be glad to take on a high profile case.

I hope the parents of these boys sue, and I especially hope they sue Duke. But I sense a "circling of the wagons" by faculty, trustees, and the Durham cops. They will almost certainly stonewall any and all questioning.

Duke will now marshall all their resources to launch a big time defense.

Anonymous said...

Okay, here's how I see it: the "dropped charges" tickler was floated as a trial balloon by the NCAG and the Special Prosecutors to see if the (ahem) minority groups would riot and burn down Durham. If there is only muted grumbles, Cooper et. al. may announce the charges are to be dropped very soon. If, on the other hand, we are faced with a "Rodney King II" response, they will find a way to weasel out of the impasse created by DAMN. Cynical, I know, but that's the way politicians operate today. Search the NC legislature and you won't find more than a couple of testicles.