News & Observer 4/11/2006:With news of the decision out in advance of the actual announcement, speculation focused on the content and tone of the anticipated dismissal. Many expected that Attorney General Roy Cooper might take the easy way out and simply offer a "lack of evidence" or an "uncooperative accuser" as the basis for the decision to end the Hoax.
Attorney General Roy Cooper plans a news conference at 2:30 p.m. today to announce his decision in the Duke University lacrosse case.
ABC News and the Associated Press cited unnamed sources as saying Cooper would drop sexual assault and kidnapping charges against three former lacrosse players.
"I think the critical thing could be the wording," Duke law professor Paul Haagen said. "It could simply say the state can no longer prove its case, which would be a very harmful outcome for the community." Or, Haagen said, the decision "could provide a full accounting of why the case should never have been brought." Baltimore SunTo his great credit, NC Attorney General Roy Cooper demonstrated courage, conviction, and a commitment to justice with his firm declaration of the innocence of the three victims of the Nifong/Mangum Hoax. It’s difficult to imagine how Cooper could have delivered a stronger declaration of the factual innocence of the maliciously prosecuted young men.
"Often it is said that one cannot un-ring a bell. Today, Roy Cooper has an opportunity to attempt to do just that by making clear the charges were based on a false accusation, a slipshod investigation, and a politically motivated persecution. Should he fail with that responsibility to justice ... the damages done to the victims of the Hoax will endure." LS
"We have carefully reviewed the evidence collected by the Durham County prosecutor's office and the Durham Police Department. We have also conducted our own interviews and evidence gathering. Our attorneys and SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) agents have interviewed numerous people who were at the party, DNA and other experts, the Durham County district attorney, Durham police officers, defense attorneys and the accusing witness on several occasions. We have reviewed statements given over the past year, photographs, records and other evidence.
"The result is that these cases are over, and no more criminal proceedings will occur.
"We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. 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.
"We approached this case with the understanding that rape and sexual assault victims often have some inconsistencies in their accounts of a traumatic event. 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 that house that night.
"The prosecuting witness in this case responded to questions and offered information. She did want to move forward with the prosecution.
"However, the contradictions in her many versions of what occurred and the conflicts between what she said occurred and other evidence, like photographs and phone records, could not be rectified.
"Our investigation shows that:
"The eyewitness identification procedures were faulty and unreliable. No DNA confirms the accuser's story. No other witness confirms her story. Other evidence contradicts her story. She contradicts herself. Next week, we'll be providing a written summary of the important factual findings and some of the specific contradictions that have led us to the conclusion that no attack occurred.
"In this case, with the weight of the state behind him, the Durham district attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many points in the case where caution would have served justice better than bravado. And in the rush to condemn, a community and a state lost the ability to see clearly. Regardless of the reasons this case was pushed forward, the result was wrong. Today, we need to learn from this and keep it from happening again to anybody."
"The re-investigation of this matter indicates that this individual is innocent of the charges brought against him and in the interests of justice these charges are dismissed." Dismissal OrderIncredibly, however, there are some who continue to promote the illusion that an assault occurred, despite the exhaustive investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s special prosecutors, Jim Coman and Mary Winstead, and the firm declaration by AG Cooper that the evidence indicated no assault occurred, the falsely accused were innocent victims of rogue prosecutor Nifong's rush to judgment, and "innocence" rightly should be cited on the official dismissal orders as the reason for exoneration. Word of the end of the Hoax was met with blind resistance by various pundits, organizations, and individuals, many of whom had enabled the Hoax and were among the worst assailants of the innocent young men.
Leader of the lunatic fringe, Wendy Murphy, whose ridiculous prediction of riots in the streets failed to materialize, continued to perform CPR on the lifeless Hoax:
“But suspicions still linger against the Duke team, as victims rights attorney Wendy Murphy, who has long supported the accuser, proved yesterday. She said the woman either lied and should be prosecuted, or was paid off, presumably by the rich Duke families.” Boston HeraldThe North Carolina NAACP, whose website continues to boast the libelous 82 count indictment - “Crimes and Torts committed by Duke Lacrosse Team Players” - crafted by the organization's Legal Redress Committee Chair, Alan McSurely, misrepresented Roy Cooper’s declaration of factual innocence in a formal statement issued by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, President of the North Carolina Conference, who once upon a time called for the community to embrace the truth.
"We must face the truth and the justice that the truth demands...we must recognize that in a moment like this moment we need the guidance of God and a moral compass, which keeps us focused, that only the truth can set us free." -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, "Meeting the Challenges of Community and Justice in the Midst of Crisis," April 5, 2006
"If his office believes the state lacks sufficient evidence to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that all the elements of each crime took place, then it is the State’s constitutional duty to dismiss the charges. We trust that the SBI has left no stone unturned in the investigation of this case." -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II failing to meet the challenges of community and justice while refusing to face the truth, April 11, 2006NAACP case monitor, Irving Joyner, added to Barber’s promotion of the erroneous illusion that Cooper had dismissed the case because of reasonable doubt of guilt, instead of the truth that the investigation determined the defendants' actual innocence, by expressing reservations about the reasons for dismissal and troubled concern over the relief that accompanied news of the exoneration:
“Irving Joyner, a law professor at North Carolina Central University who has been monitoring the case for the NAACP, said the black community will want to be satisfied with the reasons for the dismissal -- especially since early days in the case, black leaders were concerned that a low-income black woman's word would not be taken against that of privileged white men.Hoax-igniter Samiha Khanna dismissed Cooper’s unambiguous statement that the investigation found no shred of evidence supporting the accuser's false allegations. Instead, Khanna continued her pattern of distorting truth, hinting of mythical, unspecified "clashing" evidence supporting the accuser’s false accusation:
“Joyner added that he is "troubled and concerned by the carnival atmosphere being created here -- that these three men are somehow coming home for a victory party."
“Piece by piece, the criminal case that Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong built … The clashing evidence in the case has divided two groups judging a woman they never have met - those who still believe her, and those who never did. … The public will rely on a patchwork of facts revealed through court records, hypotheses posted on the Internet and blurry photographs to draw conclusions about the accuser.” Khanna
"Since we haven't gone through a normal legal process, we don't know what really happened. The fact the charges were dropped doesn't mean nothing happened. It just means information wasn't collected appropriately enough to go forward.” -- Duke biology professor Sheryl Broverman
“For the alleged victim, today is the first day of the rest of her life, too. She now can try to begin to move on from this sorry episode and make meaning out of it. Is she a victim, too, a victim of her status as a stripper and a hazy memory? Only she and the young men know for sure. Perhaps in time she, too, will be able to share with us her version of events from that seedy night.”Harris Johnson, whose bigotry helped cement the impression of a racially divided Durham, stood by the DA whose effective race-baiting preyed upon Johnson and others of like mind.
"The attorney general should make it clear whatever evidence he does have, and the lack of evidence that would support dropping it. That way it would dispel any false perception that it was just being swept up under the rug," said Johnson, who in November praised Nifong's handling of the case because it showed justice couldn't be bought by the wealthy.
Johnson added that he thinks the State Bar's actions against Nifong have been selective, in that it's previously failed to administer more than "a slap on the wrist" to prosecutors guilty of withholding evidence in death-penalty cases.
"The attorney general and the bar should look at those kinds of situations and use their good judgment in looking at Nifong," Johnson said.
"I don't think [Nifong] meant wrong, that it was a rogue attack. I think he went more with his passion than maybe his professionalism. He might have been wrong in some instances, but I don't think he was totally wrong." — A.J. Donaldson, an N.C. Central University senior
"The whole situation is so flaky at this point. I just question everyone's motives in the whole situation. Even to this day, I think there's some sympathy for [Mangum], but it has been prolonged and the university has gotten a lot of negative publicity. You don't know who to believe." Jason Jowers, N.C. Central University senior
"I thought it was unbelievable cause somebody who does a crime like that and gets caught on it, they should be put away, not have the charges dropped on it especially if people have gotten evidence against them on it. So, as far as that goes...in my opinion, the people responsible for it deserve to get put away for it and those who had nothing to do with it in the first place they should be the ones who are let go. I mean, if a girl went to the party, whether she was drunk or sober, high or not, she still said no, but the only word she has is hers against all theirs, and that's the only thing that got them off, that she didn't have anyone there with her, so that;s probably the only reason that they say it's a no contest case, cause it's her word against all theirs saying no." -- Bryan Parham NCCU 20, Sophomore
"Candice Benbow, a graduate sociology student who said she knows the accuser, said she had to sit down when she heard about the charges being dropped.
"I knew it was going to happen," Benbow said sadly. "You're rich and you're white and the world is pretty much your oyster. I will stand on the belief that something happened to her, but she was up against Duke money."
"It clearly will be a conversation on campus," Benbow said.
"I do believe something happened but we don't know," said a neighbor, Lafardella David, 68, a retired chef. "No one will ever know. Money is involved," he said in a reference to the status of the families of the accused. "If you got the money you can't do no wrong."
"Prosecution definitely screwed up on that...they're not innocent, they should go to jail!" --Michael McKoy NCCU Student
"I think they should look more into the situation because a rape charge is not something to be dropped it is something to be taken seriously" -- Sade Ridenhour (to the Greensboro News-Record), NCCU Student
"The prosecution definitely screwed up, the players they shouldn't be let by because they are athletes, they need to very much go more into this situation." -- Sade Ridenhour (to the LA Times), NCCU Student