Former Duke lacrosse players settle lawsuit with city of Durham


Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been eight years coming. The scandal that rocked Duke and the rest of the nation has finally been put to rest. Eight years after the three Duke lacrosse players were wrongly arrested on charges of sexual assault, the city of Durham and their police department have settled the lawsuit with the three former players.

Reade Seligman, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans (the three lacrosse players wrongly charged) won’t receive any of the money though. The city is giving a $50,000 grant to the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission.

Crystal Mangum was their alleged victim, saying that she was attacked in a bathroom by the three after being hired to perform as a stripper for the team.

Damage control on the university’s side was quick. Mike Pressler, Duke lacrosse coach, was relieved of his duties and the rest of the season was cancelled.

As police looked into the case, Mangum changed her story many times and there was a lack of evidence against Seligman, Finnerty and Evans. Eventually the Attorney General’s Office took jurisdiction over the case and dropped all charges and stated that the players were “innocent victims” of a “tragic rush to accuse.”

The then-Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong has been disbarred for ethics violations and was jailed for the actions during the Duke lacrosse case. He was remembered for saying “I am not going to allow Durham’s view in the minds of the world to be a bunch of lacrosse players at Duke raping a black girl from Durham.”

“As the city maintained throughout, it believes that its police officers had an obligation to investigate the allegations made my Crystal Mangum in 2006 and that no police offer nor any other city employee engaged in improper conduct,” Durham officials said in a statement this week.

Despite that “no police nor any other city employee engaged in improper conduct” Durham police officers Ben Himan and Mark Gottlieb resigned from their positions after the case.

Regardless of the players’ innocence, they were the source of a media circus, where most everyone in the nation thought they were guilty, even Duke professors. 88 Duke professors signed an open letter, which publicly implicated the players. Later many of the signees recanted their statements or tried to clarify their reasoning behind their action.

Even now, with their innocence granted, if a future employer looks up one of those three lacrosse players names, a plethora of articles about the scandal pops up. Despite them being found “innocent victims” of injustice, they will forever have to deal with the false allegations that were brought upon them. It’s something that they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives.

Before the lawsuit was settled, author William D. Cohen released a book, The Price of Silence: The Power of the Elite and the Corruption of Our Great Universities. The book depicts several issues in universities in the past, including the Duke lacrosse case.

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