Duke lacrosse accuser holds press conference to defend herself

Staff writerJune 30, 2010 

Crystal Gail Mangum holds a press conference outside her home.

STAFF PHOTO BY HARRY LYNCH

— Crystal Gail Mangum believes the system is out to get her.

With a motion bracelet strapped to her right ankle, Mangum, 31, held a press conference in front of a Savannah Avenue home this morning - where she is on house arrest - to defend herself against a February domestic violence arrest.

Mangum was arrested at her Lincoln Street home after police alleged that during an argument with her ex-boyfriend, she set the apartment on fire and tried to kill her now ex-boyfriend while her three young children and two Durham police officers were in the home.

“I don’t feel like I’m going to get the justice that I deserve through the judicial system and I feel this my only and last means to reach out to the public and let them know that I did not set a fire that night,” she said while sitting in front of Savannah Avenue residence, unable to even walk to the driveway. “To let the public know that I am being unfairly treated due to preconceived notions that people have about me concerning another case. I feel like enough is enough.”

That case happens to be the Duke Lacrosse case, where Mangum accused three Duke University lacrosse players of sexual assault during a party in March 2006. State Attorney General Roy Cooper cleared the three men in 2007. Mangum never faced any charges in the case, which gained international headlines and led to the resignation of former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong after the State Bar charged him with 20 ethics violations.

Mangum never mentioned the case by name during this morning’s conference but believes it has led to the multiple charges from the February incident, including arson, child endangerment and attempted murder. She pleaded for her ex-boyfriend, who she said abused her, to come forward and tell the truth about what happened.

Mangum said that her ex-boyfriend, after taking her to the emergency room for a spinal tap, started hitting her and accusing her of cheating after she asked him to leave the residence. Mangum said she and her three children ran into a bedroom for safety. Mangum stated that she doesn’t know who set the home on fire but that her ex-boyfriend was the only other person in the home.

“I can’t explain to you why I keep going through issues with domestic violence,” she said, referring to past relationships. “Maybe it’s mistakes. Maybe I tell men too much about my past and they try to take that for granted. Maybe domestic violence is more prevalent than people think.”

Mangum’s next court date is Friday.

stan.chambers@newsobserver.com or 919-932-2025

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