The Duke University lacrosse coach who was fired in the alleged rape scandal has come forward, saying the "truth" the team knew all along about what happened that fateful day in March last year is finally coming out.
"I made a promise to those 47 players I would tell the world the truth at the appropriate time and the appropriate venue," Mike Pressler told FOX News in an exclusive interview.
"I think, again, the evidence is coming out daily if not weekly. I think the world is seeing the things that we knew early on in March. We remained silent for that period of time because we believed in those two words: the truth. There was no reason to debate that publicly. We were going to stand by it, stay the course … . The evidence is coming out as we know it."
A book telling Pressler's story is set for release in June by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster publishing. The book, titled "It's Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives it Shattered," is written by Sports Illustrated investigative journalist Don Yaeger.
The former coach says the book lays out the details he knew about the case from the beginning, and that its release is "about fulfilling my promise to the players."
Pressler's tenure at Duke ended April 5, 2006. He was essentially fired days after the school canceled the spring lacrosse season amid the allegations that three white members of the team raped a black exotic dancer at an off-campus team party the night of March 13 of that year.
John Danowski was later hired to replace Pressler; the lacrosse team resumed play this year.
Pressler was entering his 16th year at Duke, and his team was coming off an appearance in the NCAA championship game that seemed to signal Duke's arrival as a perennial title contender when the scandal hit. He's now the head of the lacrosse team at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I.
The rape allegations caused an uproar in the community, filled with racial tension and accusations.
Pressler said he received threats against himself and his family, and that Durham or Duke police cars had to drive by his house every 10 to 15 minutes during the worst times. Hate signs were also posted in his yard.
"I just think there's just so many folks overreacting, people in the community, the quick rush to judgment," Pressler said. "Certainly we were concerned for our safety for a period of time there."
But the players also were under fire from many in the community, he said.
"Certainly they were under tremendous harassment from so many different groups," Pressler continued. "I said to them, 'Guys, if you can take it, me and my wife and my daughters can take it.' So we kind of make a pact together that we were gonna stay the course, stay strong together and see this thing through."
But since those indictments, the accuser has changed her version of events that happened that night, and DNA has failed to conclusively point to any of the lacrosse players as being the dancer's alleged attackers.
Those events, combined with others, led Nifong to drop the rape charges. But the three former players still face charges of sexual offense and kidnapping.
Asked by FOX News whether he thought the lacrosse players were innocent of those charges, Pressler said: "The case is not concluded. The three boys have serious charges against them still and I will not say publicly until this episode in our life is over with and this situation is behind us."
For his part, Nifong is no longer prosecuting the case and is facing ethics violations of his own. He is accused of, among other things, concealing evidence regarding DNA results the players' attorneys say may have cleared their clients.
"We certainly have our opinions on how he handled this and the lives that have been forever, as Don put it, changed or shattered because of this," Pressler said. "What goes around comes around, and he's involved with his judicial system now and he'll be punished accordingly. I think we're all counting on that."
Yaeger said it the most explosive parts of the book are the ones that detail what he learned about Nifong and his actions during the course of the case.
"I think the more I've learned about the district attorney and his motivation and the interviews I did with people very close to him — campaign workers and others at that time — about what he said, it's really disgusting," Yaeger said. "It's really hard to believe that in this day and age, rogue prosecutors can act like this."
Pressler said he's not sure whether Duke officials believed the accuser's story at the time the allegations arose.
"It's a very complicated situation and there are so many different layers, and I think in time, you'll see all the different components to it, what went into their decision ... it shouldn't have happened, I think the world knows that."
He added: "In time, I think the world, the community will see the truth as we know it."
Yaeger said there's no doubt in his mind that Pressler was the sacrificial lamb during a time when Duke felt it needed to hold someone responsible for any alleged misdeeds by the lacrosse players as many in the community were calling for someone's head to roll.
"I don't think there's any question at the time they decided to let Pressler go, they had to make a decision to put someone out on the streets," Yaeger told FOX News. "The university and others did not want to wait. They didn't want to wait on the facts. They didn't want to wait on the truth, hence the title of the book."
"Never once" did the team or Pressler think he would lose his job, or possibly his career, the former coach added, "so that just added to the emotion of the season being canceled."
"I don't think there's any question Duke had multiple opportunities to do things differently," and to "change the course" of how things played out after the allegations, Yaeger said.
By firing Pressler and taking action against the players before any indictments were handed up, Yaeger said, Duke "sent a message to everyone that maybe something did happen, and that then became the fuel for the fire that then began to erupt around them."
Yaeger also said that there could be some information coming from the special prosecutors now investigating the case "very soon." That information "would be really wonderful news for all the people involved," he said, adding, however, that "regardless, there are some very shattered lives in this case."
Not only did the rape allegations rock the campus and community, but there were other complaints that the lacrosse team threw rowdy parties in neighborhoods around campus and that they were less-than-model citizens.
Despite criticism that claimed otherwise, Pressler said he did his best to address those problems, but there was a "disconnect" between the dean of students' office and the sports department.
"We knew about situations regarding the individual players on our team. We dealt with those quickly and punishment was handed out accordingly. There were no … regrets on how we handled that," he said. "We didn't know a lot of the time what was going on with athletes off the field. But when we knew about it, we dealt with it."
Pressler still keeps in contact with Finnerty, Evans and Seligmann and even showed up in court for some of their appearances.
"I'm so proud of them, how all three young men and their families have handled this, the strength that they demonstrated publicly," Pressler said. "I know for a fact I probably wouldn't have handled it with such class, such strength, they demonstrated from Day One."