Lacrosse accuser calls for justice

Staff WriterJuly 1, 2010 

— ****** CORRECTION: On July 1, a story on Page 3B about Crystal Mangum incorrectly stated that the N.C. Bar Association had charged former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong with ethics violations related to his prosecution of three Duke lacrosse players on sexual assault charges. It was the N.C. Bar that charged Nifong. ******

Crystal Gail Mangum says the system is out to get her.

With a monitoring bracelet strapped to her right ankle, Mangum, 31, held a press conference Wednesday in front of a Savannah Avenue residence - where she is under house arrest - to defend herself against a February domestic violence arrest. She was unable to walk to the driveway because of the bracelet.

Mangum was arrested at her former Lincoln Street home after an argument with her boyfriend at the time. Police say she set a pile of clothes on fire in a bathtub 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 is 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.

"To let the public know that I am being unfairly treated due to preconceived notions that people have about me concerning another case," she said. "I feel like enough is enough."

That case is the Duke lacrosse situation, in which 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 charges in the case, which made international headlines and led to the resignation of former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong after the N.C. Bar Association charged him with 20 ethics violations.

Mangum never mentioned the case by name Wednesday but said it led to the multiple charges from the February incident, including arson, child endangerment, resisting arrest and attempted murder. The attempted murder charge was later dropped.

She pleaded for her ex-boyfriend to come forward and tell the truth about what happened.

Mangum said her 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. She said she and her three children ran into a bedroom for safety. She said 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."

Efforts to reach lawyers on both sides of the case were unsuccessful Wednesday. Mangum's next court date is Friday.

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