“The woman who accused three members of the Duke University men's lacrosse team of sexual assault is not being forthcoming with special prosecutors, law enforcement sources close to the case tell ABC News.
“The accuser has met at least twice with prosecutors from the North Carolina attorney general's office, which took over the case from Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong in January.
“In those interviews, she gave incomplete answers when asked about the alleged assault and the events surrounding it, according to sources.”
The Attorney General’s office initially declined official comment on the accuser’s lack of cooperation:
“A spokeswoman for the office of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper would not comment on the accuser's participation with the investigation.”
Curiously, and in direct contradiction to the leak, Roy Cooper was quick to deny the assertion that the accuser was evading key questions. Within an hour of its original posting, the ABC article was amended to include:
“AG Denies Accuser's Lack of Cooperation
The attorney general's office issued the following statement to ABC News:
"In discussions with our attorneys, the accuser has been cooperative in answering questions and providing information. More discussions are scheduled."
“As of March 16, she had not yet told that story to special prosecutors investigating the case. Law enforcement sources told ABC News that in at least two initial meetings with those officials, the accuser was not forthcoming and hesitated to answer investigators' questions.”
“Multiple sources close to the investigation confirmed that she was reluctant to answer questions in those interviews, though further meetings were scheduled in which she might become more forthcoming.”
“Further detracting from the reliability of the article, the final three of its four pages attempt to downplay Mangum's reported, then denied, uncooperativeness by suggesting that the false accuser’s reticence is an indication that she was assaulted. Without offering the more obvious conclusion that Ms. Mangum, faced with the prospect of having to reconcile her mutually exclusive alternate versions with equally contradictory physical, scientific, and medical evidence, as well as numerous credible witness statements, has decided to remain silent rather than further incriminate herself, Setrakian parades Leah Oettinger, a victim’s advocate formerly employed with the Durham Crisis Response Center, to ensure her readers that just because everything points to "nothing happened" it doesn't mean that nothing happened.”
"Her reluctance at this stage isn't a sign that she's not sure what happened — it's a red flag that there are things wrong with the story."
“It belies anything a prosecutor would do before making charges. There was no need to rush to the charging judgment in this case. … This whole train should have been slowed down and everybody interviewed before charging decisions. To have witnesses appear on a media program revealing information that the prosecutor doesn't know is stunningly inappropriate.”
"For Fairstein, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong's biggest mistake in his handling of the case was a lack of tough questions — and a lack of effort to ask them. Nifong's first known meeting with the accuser was at least nine months after her initial accusations.
"There's no excuse for the way this prosecution has proceeded," she said. "The shocking aspect of that to me is that Nifong only met with her once or twice. He himself had not done a sit down interview once he learned that the initial allegations seemed to be inconsistent."
"Trust, but Verify
"Fairstein said a prosecutor should take the accuser's story seriously but view it with a critical eye.
"You have to take that story, prove it occurred, and prove that it's these men who did it," she said.
"Building a case, said Fairstein, means considering the accuser's story in light of the evidence at hand. That, she said, did not happen here.
"It seems to me that she was embraced by the prosecutor and his team immediately. They coddled her and took her side in this," Fairstein said.
"Fairstein also criticized Nifong for his apparent unwillingness to meet with defense attorneys early on in the case. Lawyers for Seligmann said that Nifong refused their offers to discuss evidence of an alibi — materials including ATM photos, phone records and testimonial evidence.
"You don't turn anybody away who's offering you information," Fairstein stressed.
"Fairstein was also surprised that Nifong was not alarmed by the lack of physical evidence, given the graphic nature of the accuser's charges. She describes being violently raped, sodomized and forced to perform oral sex. She told investigators that her alleged assailants did not wear condoms.
"While having DNA evidence is a luxury, no such evidence was found linking lacrosse players to the accuser's body or clothing. "It's a contact crime — not a stabbing or a drive-by shooting. You'd expect something to be left by the contact between two bodies," said Fairstein.
"Rape kit samples did, however, show traces of DNA from five to nine unidentified men — facts that were not revealed to the defense when they were first discovered and that Fairstein said should have slowed down the case.
"Whatever the outcome, Fairstein worries about the impact of the Duke lacrosse case on rape prosecutions around the country. Her concern is that the high-profile investigation will inhibit aggressive prosecution of sexual assault cases..
"If there is a dismissal there will be many more people who encounter rape in the future with greater skepticism. It will reinforce the stereotype that many of these rapes are false reports.".
"As a prosecutor, Fairstein said, "you have to acknowledge that [false] accusations do happen — though they are less than 10 percent of reported rapes..
"That, said Fairstein, is why you need to figure out the true story early on, asking tough questions and figuring out what reasons, if any, explain the missing or inconsistent evidence.."You're looking to do justice before you go to court — and certainly before you get an indictment.".