City, school chiefs make public appeal

From Staff ReportsApril 17, 2006 

A full-page advertisement appearing in today's News & Observer pleads for the public to let the rape investigation involving members of Duke University's lacrosse team be tried in the justice system, not by the public.

The ad is signed by Durham Mayor Bill Bell, N.C. Central University Chancellor James Ammons and Duke President Richard Brodhead.

A black employee of an escort service reported to police that she was raped and beaten by three white men at a Duke lacrosse team party that started March 13 at the off-campus residence of three of the team's captains.

"For the past few weeks, Durham has been shaken by allegations arising from the incident of March 13. While feelings of pain, anger, and confusion are understandable in times like these, let us remember that justice is served in the courtroom, not in the media or at the hands of individuals. ... We all must work to be a community of one," the ad states.

Meanwhile, more than 100 people turned out Sunday for a show of unity and prayer in front of the house where the woman said she was attacked.

The event, organized by The Church of the Apostolic Revival International in Durham, featured prayers of support for the accuser and the accused.

Some had expected New York minister and activist Al Sharpton to appear at the event, but the Apostolic church's Bishop John A. Bennett said he urged Sharpton not to attend. Bennett said he feared Sharpton would draw unwanted parallels between the unnamed Durham rape accuser and Tawana Brawley, a black teenager previously championed by Sharpton and now widely believed to have falsely accused white men of gang-raping her.

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