Lacrosse case had Cline input

March 4, 2012 

When Tracey Cline first campaigned for the district attorney's office in 2008, she faced questions about the collapse of the high-profilecharges brought against three Duke lacrosse players who were falsely accused of rape by a dancer at an off-campus house.

The wrong ful pursuit of the charges led to the disbarment of then-District Attorney Mike Nifong, prompting Cline to run to fill out her boss's term. Cline was a chief assistant to Nifong, and was the office's main sex-crimes prosecutor for years.

While meeting with voters and reporters, Cline sought to distance herself from the lacrosse case. But records and testimony at Nifong's disbarment hearing showed Cline was involved in the issuance of a controversial order early in the case. It required all the lacrosse players to submit to DNA tests. Defense lawyers questioned its legality at the time.

Ultimately, Nifong would assume control of the case and responsibility for what happened.

Last year, in an interview, Cline was guarded when questioned about her involvement.

She said she "may have generally given (Nifong) suggestions" about the case, but she could not be more specific. She also indicated that she would have helped Nifong if the case had advanced to atrial.

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