District Attorney Mike Nifong on Trial as Much as Lacrosse Players in Rape Case, Duke President Says

The case against three Duke lacrosse players charged with raping a stripper at a team party in March "will be on trial just as much" as the defendants, university president Richard Brodhead said Monday.

In a statement released by the university, Brodhead said the defendants should be presumed innocent as the case pushes toward a possible spring trial date.

The statement came days after a lab director said in a pretrial hearing that, following an agreement with Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, he violated his own procedures and withheld results showing none of the charged players' DNA was found on or in the accuser's body.

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It was the latest blow to Nifong's case against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans — whose lawyers have maintained their innocence since they were indicted in the spring.

"As I told Ed Bradley during a '60 Minutes' interview last summer, given the concerns that have been raised, when it goes before a judge and jury the DA's case will be on trial just as much as our students will be," Brodhead said. "In the meanwhile, as I have said before, our students must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise."

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