Published January 12, 2007
RALEIGH, N.C. – The embattled district attorney prosecuting three Duke University lacrosse players in a sexual-assault case has served his key witness a subpoena forcing her to testify during a Feb. 5 hearing, FOX News has confirmed.
On Thursday, District Attorney Mike Nifong met for several hours with the woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by the three players during an off-campus party in March, WRAL reported. It was there she was served with the subpoena.
As the sexual assault case against Duke players continues to crumble, the mother of one of the indicted college students says Nifong has messed with the wrong family.
When asked during a "60 Minutes" interview what she would say to Nifong if he were in the room, Rae Evans, the mother of indicted player David Evans, said: "I would say with a smile on my face, 'Mr. Nifong, you've picked on the wrong families … and you will pay every day for the rest of your life.'"
The forensic expert hired by Nifong to conduct DNA tests on the accuser, her underwear and other items, also told "60 Minutes" that he made a "big error" in judgment by not stating in his report that not only was none of the DNA on the woman that of any member of the lacrosse team, but that there was DNA from multiple other men on her.
"We haven't done that before," said DNA Security Director Brian Meehan, referring to the omission of potentially exculpatory evidence. "In retrospect, I should have done a better job of conveying that information."
Nifong didn't tell the indicted players' defense attorneys about the other DNA, as required by law, for six months. During that time, Nifong filed a court motion that stated he was not aware of any potentially exculpatory evidence.
The "60 Minutes" interview is scheduled to air Sunday night.
Nifong has been charged by the State Bar with ethics violations for public comments he made about the case early on; a hearing scheduled in that case is scheduled for May 11.
The "60 Minutes" interview comes after defense attorneys for Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann filed papers this week with the judge presiding over the case, asking again for a dismissal because of more changes to the accuser's story.
The exotic dancer who had claimed the three men had raped her at an off-campus house party the night of March 13 has in the past few months changed details of the story she originally gave to several police officers and officials at the hospital at which she was treated after the alleged assault.
Rape charges last month were dropped against the three men after the woman said she could no longer be sure she was penetrated by a penis — a requirement for rape under North Carolina law. The three players still face kidnapping and sexual assault charges, and Nifong has come under heavy fire — even from former allies — for his pursuit of the case.
Meehan claims he told Nifong about the other DNA found on the accuser for the first time in mid-April. Later that month, Nifong indicted Finnerty, Evans and Seligmann. Meehan has also testified that he and Nifong agreed that his report should be limited to positive DNA matches between the accuser and the players at the party.
"It was an error in judgment on my part. … It certainly was a big error," Meehan said in the interview. He says his firm wasn't trying to hide the information and that it released it when it was asked, and that Nifong's behavior bothered him.
Defense attorneys only found out about the foreign DNA late last year as they waded through hundreds of documents handed over by Nifong upon their request.
Nifong's actions — withholding information that could help clear their sons — has angered the players' families.
"I think [I felt] one of the strongest feelings of rage that I've had … I literally had to turn to my husband, because I was shaking from my head to my toe, and say, 'Hold me down,'" said Finnerty's mother, Mary Ellen.
"You felt like someone hit you with a baseball bat. … It was almost too much to bear, as we sat there," added Seligmann's mother, Kathy. "And [Nifong is] sitting 10 feet away from us … We had to hold on to each other because when you sit there and put two and two together and realize that it was calculated … set up to make these boys appear to be guilty of something they didn't do."
Meanwhile, Duke University English professor has resigned from her committee assignments over the school's decision to invite two of the indicted players back to campus. Duke's administration has steadily increased its criticism of Nifong as the case appeared to grow weaker.
Former dean Karla Holloway calls the decision, quote, "a clear use of corporate power, and a breach, I think, of ethical citizenship."
Earlier this month, officials at Duke said Finnerty and Seligmann could return to school as students in good standing for the spring semester, which began this week. Evans graduated the day before he was indicted.
Holloway was one of 88 faculty members at Duke who endorsed an ad last April in the campus newspaper that included anonymous quotes from students discussing racism and sexual assault on Duke's campus. She is worried discussion of race and gender equality will end once the lacrosse case is settled.
"The issues about race and gender and sexuality that were made more apparent by the case need to continue to be receive serious and sustained attention by this institution," she said.
Larry Moneta, Duke vice president for student affairs, said that neither Finnerty nor Seligmann will accept the invitation until the case is concluded.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.