This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," December 22, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: This is a Fox News alert: Dismissed! Three rape charges dismissed by D.A. Mike Nifong in the Duke lacrosse rape case — but it is not what some think. There are still more serious felonies left in the indictment that carry big, big, big time, that were not dismissed. Right now the case is still headed to trial.
But here is the real question, what is D.A. Mike Nifong up to? Championing the underdog, who was the victim of a crime? Or is D.A. Nifong preying on the innocent to win an election for his own selfish purposes? In other words, is Mike Nifong a bad man, abusing his office?
For the three young college men, it's an incredible development. We spoke earlier with Kevin Finnerty, the father of the accused player Collin Finnerty.
VAN SUSTEREN: Kevin, it's no secret that I find this prosecution, at best, shameful, at best I might add, emphasize. Your thought tonight about the news about the three rape charges being dropped, one against each of the young college men?
KEVIN FINNERTY, FATHER OF COLLIN FINNERTY: Well, Greta, I know have you been following this case from the outset. These boys are obviously innocent and I think — we are thrilled at the single victory of getting this rape charge dropped -- but we are not celebrating. The other two charges that are outstanding against the boys are extremely serious and we are again, not celebrating. We have a lot of work to do. As much as we are happy for this one small victory today, we are looking forward to getting the other two dropped eventually.
VAN SUSTEREN: Kevin, how painful is this for your family? I mean, you have been going through this since, essentially, March of last year, or this year.
FINNERTY: Greta, we have five children and we have a great family. Each of the kids reacts in their own way. And it's been — obviously Collin is out of school. Collin is off the lacrosse field. Collin has had his reputation tarnished and dragged through the mud. It's just been horrific, I mean, I think that it's totally unfair. It's totally inappropriate. These kids are totally innocent. And it's been a very -- unlike anything we have ever done, and it's just been extremely painful.
VAN SUSTEREN: Had you ever had any sort of even passing interest in the criminal justice system? Have you ever paid attention to it before this?
FINNERTY: Well, we certainly paid attention to it. We have never run into it remotely like this. And I think that, you know, we spend so much time with our lawyers these days that Mary Ellen and I kid each other, and feel like we're second year law students at this point.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mary Ellen's your wife. How is she taking this?
FINNERTY: You know, I think — it's hardest on Mary Ellen. It's tough on Collin. It's tough on the other kids, but I think that women are, you know, programmed differently, and I think she is programmed to be a great mom. And she is a great mom. And, you know, this is a total frontal attack on her son, and as much as we know there is no evidence, and as much as we have the truth, and we know Collin and the other two boys are innocent, I think the emotional side of her makeup just can't, you know, of her brain, just can't get over the attack and the potential consequences.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you and your wife talk to the Seligmans, do you talk to the Evans, the other two college students who are in the same position as Collin is.
FINNERTY: The boys, playing on the same team, obviously, are all pretty good friends. The parents really somewhat knew each other as acquaintances in passing previous to this, but fortunately, and I think it's actually a strategic benefit to the defense team, is that the three teams, the parents, the boys, the lawyers are relatively well coordinated and, yes, we do. We talk to them. They are great people. Obviously, we are all in the same boat. We view it as everybody has a different oar, but we are going in the same direction, and I think the fact that we can coordinate avoids a lot of redundancies and shares a lot of strategic thinking, and it's actually been a benefit, I think, to the overall defense strategy.
VAN SUSTEREN: D.A. Mike Nifong was willing to talk in the beginning. Then some time later it became apparent that there was no DNA linking your son or the other two to any assault on the accuser. He then runs for election, is elected, and then gets an indictment, won't talk to the media anymore. We are now in late December. Why do you think he is doing this?
FINNERTY: Well, it's obvious to us that it's totally for personal and political gain. I think that at the time of this case breaking, or this false accusation being made, my understanding is that Mr. Nifong was about 20 percentage points behind in the poll to Freta Black. And I think that he desperately wanted to win. He had to do something. I think this case came along and he ran with it.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think we should do? I mean, I think most people — the legal profession, of which I'm a member, as well as the media, I mean, we're all scandalized. We keep pounding on this case, pounding on it. What do you think should be done?
FINNERTY: Well, you know, first of all, I think — I'm not sure exactly what the national association of District Attorneys are, but I think that they, as a group, and I'm sure they are a very capable group, nationally, they should be embarrassed by how this D.A. is running this case and prosecuting these kids.
I think that Walter Jones, Congressman in North Carolina, should be applauded for taking the initiative of contacting [U.S. Attorney General] Alberto Gonzales and requesting a federal investigation. I'm hoping that there are numerous other politicians who will follow his lead. I think that there was actually a congressional research service, that is made available to Congressman across the country, and apparently Walter Jones went to this congressional research service and asked them if these three boys' civil rights had been violated. And I think over a couple month period they did an analysis themselves. And they came back to Congressman Jones with the answer that, yes, their civil rights had been violated. And I think that Congressman Jones has run with it and contacted Alberto Gonzales, really, with that information.
So, federal investigation, National Association of D.A.s responding, the good people of Durham responding. -- I think there is nothing good about what he is doing.
VAN SUSTEREN: And the effect — can you see the effect on Collin? I mean, I know that's a tremendous burden on the parents. I mean, I have spoken to the parents. It's no secret that I see them in the courtroom. The boys --is Collin different as a result of this?
FINNERTY: You know, I don't think that — Collin has just recently turned 20. I don't think there is any 19- or 20-year-old that should have to go through this, ever.
I would like to think that there is something good that will come out of this. It's hard to see what that will be.
But Collin is definitely being forced to grow up much quicker than he otherwise would. Obviously his life is threatened. His reputation is tarnished. Collin is very much a part of the defense strategy. He is involved with analyzing details and part of the discussions. And so he's certainly learning a lot. He is certainly growing up and maturing much faster than he would otherwise have to. He's lost a year of his life at school and he is obviously off the lacrosse field. All very unfair to him.
VAN SUSTEREN: Kevin, I have spoken to one family member of the accuser, and I don't know how good her information is, but she says that the accuser has on two occasions asked Mike Nifong to dismiss the charges. Your reaction to that?
FINNERTY: Well, again, I'm not sure how Mr. Nifong is handling this on the other side. But given that everything else that he's doing is so inappropriate, or seemingly inappropriate, I wouldn't be surprised if he is not doing the right thing on the other side of equation as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: How about Duke University? Has Duke been forthright dealing with the families?
FINNERTY: Duke has been somewhat disappointing, I would say. We really wish they had been more vocal about the presumption of innocence for these boys, their students. We wish things had gone down differently. I would say that, as of today. In fact this afternoon, on the Duke Web site President Broadhead has come out with a formalized request for this prosecutor, this D.A., to be replaced with a special prosecutor, for him to step down and for justice to be able to proceed unimpeded. And as much as we have not been happy with their response to date, we are thrilled with their reaction today.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess, Kevin, and that is — I mean that's a good step in the right direction, but when Mike Nifong said, about six weeks ago that he hadn't even bothered to ask the accuser what happened that night, the events of the night, that it just seemed so late in coming, you know, it's like, you know, you know, it seems late to me that Duke is responding this way.
FINNERTY: It seems late to us too, but better late than never.
VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed,better late than never. How did you hear that the charges, at least the rape charge — other very serious charges still remain in that indictment — but how did you hear that they were being dismissed?
FINNERTY: We had a — I had a quick cell phone call from my — one of our attorneys to inform us. We had actually been on the phone for a conference call for about an hour this morning. They hadn't known at that point and shortly after we had terminated that call, they got the word. They called us right back and informed us.
VAN SUSTEREN: How much time has this consumed your family since last March?
FINNERTY: Oh my god. It's our entire life. It's the most important thing to us. And our family, our children, are really what our life revolves around. And when someone puts your child in the crosshairs like this, you drop everything, you focus, and this is our world. So, it's everything.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me add one last word, wrongfully puts your child in the cross fire, cross hairs. Wrongfully.
FINNERTY: Yes, certainly.
VAN SUSTEREN: Kevin, thank you very much. Good luck, sir.
FINNERTY: Greta, thank you.
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