Published March 23, 2007
The remaining charges against three Duke University lacrosse players originally indicted for rape may be dropped sometime within the next few days, according to a report.
Inside Lacrosse Magazine writer Paul Caulfield told FOX News on Thursday that several sources have revealed to him that the assault and attempted kidnapping charges still pending against Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y.; Dave Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md.; and Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Falls, N.J., will soon be dropped.
Caulfield said his sources include more than just attorneys for the defense.
"There is no case here and they will be hearing a dismissal in the coming days," Caulfield told FOX News.
Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong last year indicted the three former players with raping an exotic dancer hired to perform at an off-campus lacrosse party on March 13, 2006. The dancer, who is black, claimed that she was sexually assaulted in a bathroom in the house by three white lacrosse players. DNA was taken from all members of the university lacrosse team, except for the single black player on the team. DNA tests never conclusively proved that anyone on the team assaulted her. But DNA from other individuals was found in the accuser's underwear, among other places.
The case caused a firestorm of racial tension in a community. Lacrosse coach Mike Pressler was essentially fired and last year's spring season was canceled, Seligmann and Finnerty were suspended (Evans had already graduated by the time the story came out), and Duke began a rigorous review of how alcohol on and around campus is treated.
As the months went on, the story of the accuser — a 28-year-old student at North Carolina Central University — continued to change. When she acknowledged late last year that she could not be sure if she was actually raped, Nifong dropped the rape charges against the three players. The players had claimed their innocence all along, calling the charges "fantastic lies."
Nifong is now facing ethics charges from the state bar association from, among other thing, concealing potentially exculpatory evidence that defense lawyers claim could have proved their clients' innocence.
There have been rumors that the families of Finnerty, Seligmann and Evans may be considering civil lawsuits against Nifong, Duke or the state if it turns out the accuser's story doesn't pan out and Nifong is found to be guilty of mishandling the case.
"This is something that will wait in the wings. Once the criminal case is dropped, we are going to see this and I believe we'll see it quite quickly," said Caulfield, a former prosecutor.
June 12 is the date of the next scheduled hearing for Nifong.
The former prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse sexual assault investigation faces a June 12 trial date on ethics charges stemming from his handling of the highly publicized case.
The North Carolina State Bar has charged Nifong with several violations of rules governing professional conduct, including withholding evidence from defense lawyers. He's also accused of lying to the court and to bar investigators, and making misleading and inflammatory comments about the players.
Legal experts have said Nifong could be disbarred if he's convicted. While he said he's not sure if that will happen, Caulfield said he wouldn't be surprised if the district attorney is suspended from practicing.
"We're going to see the tables turned on Mike Nifong in the media and in the courtroom because he still continues to defend his name," Caulfield said.
FOXNews.com's Liza Porteus contributed to this report.