Dear Member of the Duke University Community,
I write to you on behalf of the Trustees of Duke University.
Today the North Carolina State Attorney General announced that all remaining charges against David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann have been dropped and should never have been brought. This announcement explicitly and unequivocally establishes the innocence of David, Collin and Reade, who with their families have suffered an unimaginable year of accusation and public scrutiny. They deserve our respect for the honorable way they have conducted themselves during this long legal ordeal that ends with their exoneration.
The Attorney General determined that there was no credible evidence to support the charges that were brought, with so many statements of certainty, by the Durham District Attorney last spring. Many have suffered from his actions, these three students and their families most of all. The Attorney General's investigation places responsibility for this miscarriage of justice with the District Attorney, and we now look to the proceedings of the state bar to call him to account before his peers.
Much as we wish that these three young men, their teammates and their families and indeed the whole community of people who love Duke could have been spared the agony of the past year, we believe that it was essential for the University to defer to the criminal justice system. As imperfect and flawed as it may be, it is that process that brings us today to this resolution.
Throughout the past year President Richard Brodhead consulted regularly with the trustees and has had our continuing support. He made considered and thoughtful decisions in a volatile and uncertain situation. Each step of the way, the board agreed with the principles that he established and the actions he took. As we look back and with the benefit of what we now know there is no question that there are some things that might have been done differently. However, anyone critical of President Brodhead should be similarly critical of the entire board.
In closing, we express our relief for today's outcome and recognize the character that our three students, their teammates and all of their families have shown over the past year. Furthermore, we hope that the resolution of this unfair, divisive and painful episode can serve to unite us all. There is much to learn from the events that we have lived through, and we intend to put this learning to use. Duke is a great university that steps up to challenges and opportunities, and together we will use this moment to make our community stronger.
Robert K. Steel, Chair,
Duke University Board of Trustees
Thursday, April 12, 2007
In a letter to the Duke Community written on behalf of the Board of Trustees, Chairman Robert Steele praises President Richard Brodhead while asserting that the decision to defer to Defendant Mike Nifong's twisted version of a justice system was "essential."