District Attorney Nifong Takes Early Morning, Private Oath of Office

The embattled prosecutor pursuing the Duke University lacrosse sexual assault case was sworn in to office Tuesday in a private courthouse ceremony.

Reporters weren't allowed to view the ceremony for District Attorney Mike Nifong and were barred from the building until 8:30 a.m., when it officially opened. Durham County Sheriff Worth Hill confirmed the ceremony had taken place.

"The whole point of this was this was not a media event," Nifong said later.

Nifong, who had been appointed to the office in 2005, won election in November, but his handling of the case against the three lacrosse players accused of assaulting a stripper at a team party has generated intense criticism.

Last week, the North Carolina State Bar filed ethics charges against Nifong. He was accused of violating professional rules by making misleading and inflammatory comments about the three lacrosse players.

Nifong declined to comment on the case Tuesday.

Last month, he dropped the rape charges against the lacrosse players after the 28-year-old accuser said she was no longer certain she had been raped. The three men still face charges of kidnapping and sexual offense. The next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 5.