College Guide


March 01, 2013 4:03 PM The Aftermath of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case

By Daniel Luzer


In case you’ve wondered about higher education stories dating from seven years ago, that scandal pertaining to sexual abuse allegations against members of Duke University’s lacrosse is now (almost) over.

In March of 2006 Crystal Mangum, an exotic dancer, performed at a party hosted at the off-campus residence of the captains of the Duke lacrosse team. Mangum, a black single mother, later accused a three members of the team of rape.

District Attorney Mike Nifong, who was running for reelection, pursued the case very enthusiastically, despite the fact that the evidence in this incident was, well, limited. A DNA test of 46 members of the school’s lacrosse team failed to indicate any sexual contact with Mangum. Several players were arrested anyway, none were found guilty.

Nifong was subsequently disbarred “after being found guilty of a battery of ethics violations for his handling of the Duke” case.

Now, according to an article in the News & Observer, on Wednesday this week,

Duke University has settled out of court a lawsuit filed by 38 former lacrosse players stemming from the 2006 lacrosse scandal. A “stipulation of dismissal” was filed in federal court Wednesday, said the players’ attorney, Bill Thomas.
The suit was filed in early 2008, with the plaintiffs presenting more than 20 claims against Duke, among them intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and violation of civil rights.
A second, separate suit, filed by three members in the lacrosse scandal, remains pending.

The incident brought extensive negative press to Duke and the lacrosse team, particularly with regard to race, class, and gender relations in the Durham, North Carolina region. As one columnist wrote in the midst of the event:

We know for certain that one of these defendants, who lawyered his way around a gay-bashing incident in Washington, is an individual of questionable character and self-control. We know the team as a whole has a dismal history of disreputable undergraduate behavior, in which it was indulging when the alleged atrocity occurred.

Well yes, but that still didn’t mean he was a rapist. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer


  • Chavez on March 01, 2013 4:45 PM:

    Well, the supposed "gay bashing" incident has been misreported from the start. Space is limited here, but Nifong
    attempted to coerce plea bargains by arresting everyone in sight (to include the police chief's daughter; the ex-husband, boyfriend, and another friend of the accuser; the defense witness Elmostafa, and others.)

    The player in DC (Collin Finnerty) had earlier been given a diversion agreement after stepping between two quarrelers and trying to separate them;for which he was struck in the back of the head and knocked to the ground. He got up and yelled an epithet at his assailant and put his fists in front of him but didn't strike anyone. He wanted to fight the diversion agreement in court, but was persuaded to just "move on", since normally it would disappear anyway in six months.

    When the false charges were made in Durham, the judge declared Finnerty had violated the diversion agreement (even though he hadn't been convicted in Durham, only accused); and seventeen federal staff (including nine attorneys) were put on the prosecution team to prosecute a student accused of "menacing" someone by shouting at them (an odd use of resources for a minor misdemeanor).

    In the trial, the chief defense witness was not allowed to testify and was ordered to step down from the witness stand in mid-sentence, the police recalled "new" facts which were not in their notes, and the judge ignored four witnesses to convict Finnerty.

    Finnerty was given a suspended sentence but was continually harassed by the judge thereafter with threats of incarceration in the racially-challenged DC jail--considered worse than many federal prisons. (Once, because he missed curfew because he was in Durham with the permission of the court's own supervising agency, in order to work on his defense there.) Many observers feel that all these threats would have been made to disappear had Finnerty cracked and promised to testify for Nifong.

    When the Durham charges were over and there were suggestions that the two accusers in DC should be tried for perjury, the US Attorney there placed their names on a roster of persons to be honored for coming forward to testify in difficult cases. The list included those who had testified against drug dealers, violent criminals, and others--and two who had testified against a student who had shouted at them after he was struck and knocked down.

    The entire episode is a blot on the American legal system, and should be cleared up. (Of course, the other version, of an out-of-control student who hated minorities and callously raped a poor working woman of color and mother of two, was much more entertaining for the media...)

  • Durhamite on March 02, 2013 12:39 PM:

    It isn't fair to pin this fiasco on the Durham area. Duke students are essentially tourists who come in from wealthy areas--usually in the northeast--to milk the area for all it's worth for a few years, then follow their parents back to Wall Street and make millions of dollars exploiting borrowers in low-income areas like downtown Durham. If anything, the Lacrosse players' actions represent the attitudes of over-privileged college students toward the less affluent people among whom they temporarily live.

    And no, the players were not guilty.

  • Col Bat Guano on March 02, 2013 5:06 PM:

    To say that the people of Durham didn't jump to conclusions because of their resentment towards Duke and the students is to deny reality. It's true that there is little integration between the town and school, but the willingness of a large portion of the citizens of Durham to immediately buy, and continue to support well after it was obvious that the story was bogus, can't be wiped away just because Duke students tend to be jerks.

  • AG on March 03, 2013 7:51 PM:

    Oh, and Ms. Mangum is now on trial for murder. The state is not seeking the death penalty.

  • WBR on March 04, 2013 9:57 PM:

    Re: Guano
    "...Duke students tend to be jerks"
    How about "some Duke students tend to be jerks"?

    Guano indeed.

  • BL on March 07, 2013 5:27 PM:

    What I would like to know is how was Crystal Mangum never charged with anything? She filed false rape charges and put those guys through hell. There are still people that think she was raped despite her saying she wasnt. Yet she was never charged with a crime...

  • Daniel on March 08, 2013 12:11 AM:

    @BL well I think everyone wanted to avoid dealing with the woman anymore, so the DA's office didn't think it was necessary to institute criminal charges against her. And none of the accused had any interest in a civil case against her, since she was poor.

  • Chris Halkides on March 18, 2013 8:07 PM:

    Daniel, (1) It is true that no players' DNA was found in the rape kit, but it is also true that other men's DNA was found in the rape kit, which was obtained within hours of the incident at the party. It is extraordinarily unlikely that any Duke player had any sexual contact with Ms. Mangum under these circumstances. (2) The judge in Mr. Finnerty's DC case eventually set aside the verdict, clearing his record IIUC. (3) Describing Mr. Nifong's behavior as enthusiastic is unintentionally misleading; Mr. Nifong broke numerous rules that prosecutors are supposed to follow. (4) The third photo line-up broke Durham's one guidelines, and if it were not for this "multiple choice test with no wrong answers," no one would have been indicted for this non-rape.

  • Chris Halkides on March 18, 2013 9:00 PM:

    The reason that Roy Cooper wisely decided to say in effect "We're through here" is because Ms. Mangum has a long medical file and an apparent history of mental illness. The reason that the students did not wish to pursue a civil case against her may be because she was not part of a conspiracy against them. MOO.

  • Chris Halkides on March 19, 2013 5:30 PM:

    Chavez, Do you have a source for your information on the Georgetown incident? I am familiar with some of it, but not all. Thanks.

  • Tom Becks on April 17, 2013 9:03 PM:

    My sister lives down the block from the Finnerty family on Long Island. My nieces are Colin's contemporaries and knew him quite well growing up. All of them adamantly assert that a finer kid could not be found. His meaningless little dust-up on the sidewalk in DC might have been better handled had Colin been a bit more mature at the time, but who among us hasn't done something dumb as a teenager? Gay bashing? Don't make me laugh. He was trying to break up a fight, and the bozos on the other side escalated matters. Nobody covered themselves in the glory in the incident, but the hysterical smears against then 19 year old Colin are completely and entirely all out of proportion to what actually happened.

    Several villains are obvious in the Duke Lacrosse case, Magnum, first and foremost, followed by Nifong and Tara Levicy. Colin Finnerty, an innocent victim of a mentally disturbed accuser in the Duke case, deserves better than to have a teenage shouting and shoving match used a means to make him out to be villain himself in the same league as them.

  • Ben on July 15, 2013 6:35 PM:

    Has Goofy Al Sharpton and the NEW Black Panthers openly apologized to the Duke boys after they spit all those Venom at the innocent students. Seems there should be a lot of apologizes going on there.