Duke settles in lacrosse suit

jwise@newsobserver.comFebruary 28, 2013 

— Duke University has settled out of court a lawsuit filed by 38 former lacrosse players stemming from the 2006 lacrosse scandal.

A “stipulation of dismissal” was filed in federal court Wednesday, said the players’ attorney, Bill Thomas.

Thomas and Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said the settlement terms are confidential.

“The extent of my and the university’s comment on this will just have to be the lawsuit is resolved,” Schoenfeld said.

“We’re happy to have this behind us,” said Thomas.

The suit was filed in early 2008, with the plaintiffs presenting more than 20 claims against Duke, among them intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and violation of civil rights.

A second, separate suit, filed by three members in the lacrosse scandal, remains pending, Schoenfeld said. In 2007, the university settled out of court in another suit, brought by the three players accused of raping an exotic dancer, Crystal Gail Mangum, during a team party. Those terms were also held confidential.

The players, David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, had been declared innocent and the charges dismissed by state Attorney General Roy Cooper. Their suit against the city of Durham, claiming violation of rights under the state constitution, remains pending.

The accusations became a nationwide sensation, presenting Mangum as a black woman working her way through college who had been wronged by white athletes from highly privileged backgrounds. They led Duke to cancel the 2006 lacrosse season, in which its team was a favorite to win the national championship, and to the forced resignation of lacrosse coach Mike Pressler.

But as facts emerged, the case brought the university’s behavior, in an apparent rush to judgment, into question, along with Durham’s justice system. The district attorney prosecuting the players, Mike Nifong, was forced out of office and disbarred for misconduct. He subsequently filed for bankruptcy.

Brian Meehan, who wrote a report obscuring the findings of DNA tests in the case, also lost his job, and two Durham police officers who were lead investigators for Nifong, Mark Gottlieb and Benjamin Himan, left the force in 2008.

Mangum is currently facing murder and other charges in the death of former boyfriend Reginald Daye, 46, who died after Mangum stabbed him in April 2011. She was released from the Durham County Jail last week on $200,000 bail, with a July 8 trial date.

Wise: 919-641-5895

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