Published April 01, 2006
DURHAM, N.C. – Students living near the house where several Duke lacrosse players allegedly raped an exotic dancer were warned Friday that the area might be a target of gang-related violence.
Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs at Duke University, wrote in an e-mail to students, "What we've heard is threats of 'drive by shooting' of the lacrosse house in the Trinity Park area."
He also said "gang-related violence" had been reported nearby but said authorities did not think it was related to the controversial alleged sexual assault which has sparked campus-wide protests and halted the lacrosse team's season.
Moneta then said many students living in the area had already found alternate places to stay.
Duke's president also sent a message to about 80,000 alumni and the parents of 6,200 students, saying the school is proceeding in an "honest and forthright way" in the investigation.
University president Richard Brodhead this week suspended the highly ranked team from play until the school learns more about what happened. The team's co-captains have denied any sexual assault, and no one has been charged.
"It's understandable to feel badly when terrible things may have happened at a place you love, and I've heard from many of you who have expressed sadness, anger, outrage, and frustration about the lacrosse situation," Brodhead wrote in the e-mail.
"The test of a school is not preventing bad things from ever happening, but in addressing them in an honest and forthright way. In my meetings with students, faculty, and administrators, I believe Duke is doing just that."
Forty-six of the lacrosse team's 47 players have given DNA samples sought by police and prosecutors. The team's lone black member did not provide one because the dancer, who is black, said the three men who restrained, choked and raped her in a bathroom were white. The state crime lab is expected to complete its analysis of the DNA samples next week, but District Attorney Mike Nifong said it will be at least April 10 before charges are filed. He also said he won't release the DNA test results when they come from the lab.
There have been daily protests on the campus since March 25. Athletic director Joe Alleva and a biology professor who heads the university's athletics oversight body invited all Duke athletes to a Thursday night forum in Cameron Indoor Stadium. About 30 students, including some lacrosse players, showed up, Duke spokesman John Burness said Friday.
Alleva used the meeting to let athletes talk about the issue that has divided the campus and to find out whether any feel they are under added scrutiny because of what has taken place, Burness said.
Duke star J.J. Redick, speaking in Indianapolis where he received the college basketball player of the year award from The Associated Press, called the lacrosse team members "great guys."
"It's just unfortunate that this incident has become such a big deal," Redick said. "But it should be a big deal if it did happen."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.