Sordid revelations of prosecutorial misconduct just keep coming in the Duke lacrosse rape debacle. Yesterday North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that his office had dropped all charges against the three young men who had been accused of sexually assaulting one of two women hired to perform a striptease at a rowdy party held in an off-campus team house last March. Cooper took over the cases in January following public outcry over Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong's numerous ethical lapses, which included making inflammatory comments to the media early in the investigation and withholding from defense attorneys evidence that could prove the players' innocence. The incident occurred while Nifong was embroiled in a tough Democratic primary race. Amid intense media coverage of the rape allegations, Nifong won the primary and then went on to win the general election. His trial on ethics charges brought by the state bar is scheduled for June.
A University of Kansas journalism professor has published a study showing that media coverage of the Duke lacrosse team rape case is a prominent example of missed opportunities in the wake of a salacious story. Barbara Barnett, associate professor of journalism and associate dean of undergraduate studies at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, has published an analysis of coverage of the case in the journal Women and Language. Herald-Sun and The Raleigh N. The former two were selected for their national reach, while the latter were located in the home counties of the subjects involved in the case. Barnett was drawn to the case largely because her research specialty focuses on women and violence and how it is portrayed in the media. It's a very difficult case to cover.
Roy Cooper, condemning Durham Dist. After a week reexamination of the highly charged case, Cooper said accusations by the stripper, 28, who attended historically black North Carolina Central University in Durham, were inconsistent and contradictory. The woman identified the athletes at what Cooper said were deeply flawed photo lineups approved by Nifong.
Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, one of the most prestigious centres of academic and sporting achievement in America, was engulfed in scandal yesterday as police stepped up an investigation into allegations of a savage rape of a hired stripper at a party attended by members of its lacrosse team. The elite campus has been in turmoil, with noisy protests erupting daily, ever since police divulged details of the case last week. Tensions deepened with the release on Wednesday of an e-mail from one of the team members sent just after the alleged rape, in which he fantasised about killing strippers and cutting off their skin. Exposed by the crisis are deeply sensitive issues of race and class, which far exceed the familiar town-and-gown factors that divide many universities from surrounding communities. The accuser is black and is a student at nearby North Carolina Central University.