Crime

Reactions to Duke lacrosse case

Attorney General Roy Cooper's dismissal of sexual assault and kidnapping charges against three former Duke University lacrosse players ended a case that has affected many lives.

Here is what some people affected by the case said after Cooper made his announcement.

"No more media, no more talk. I'm happy to be relieved from everything." — Moezeldin Elmostafa, the cab driver who bolstered the alibi of Duke lacrosse player Reade Seligmann and was then arrested on a 3-year-old shoplifting warrant that ended in acquittal.

"I hope people who experience sexual violence in any form feel comfortable calling for help ... and know that each case is different, and they can seek help when they've been violated. There's a possibility that the way the media handles high-profile sexual assault cases, and the fear that would happen to any survivor who comes forward, can have a chilling effect and make them reluctant to step forward." — Margaret Barrett, executive director, Orange County Rape Crisis Center in Chapel Hill.

"High profile criminal cases dramatically increase the press coverage and public curiosity. This creates an environment in which there is an incredible amount of pressure for the public, press and decision makers to rush to judgment. The responsibility and duty of a prosecutor is to deliberately assess the case presented, evaluate the evidence and witnesses and then make a determination as to how to proceed in the case so as to attempt to obtain justice for the public, alleged victims and the defendant. The prosecutors of this state grapple with thousands of decisions involving these issues on a daily basis. We are confident that Deputy Attorney General Coman and Mary Winstead have diligently conducted their analysis of the Duke lacrosse cases and acted accordingly." — statement from the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys.

"We respect the integrity of the Attorney General’s investigation and supported the involvement of special prosecutors. If his office believes the state lacks sufficient evidence to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that all the elements of each crime took place, then it is the state’s constitutional duty to dismiss the charges. ... Now, as we have repeatedly said, comes the hard part. How do we proceed toward the healing places in our communities and our hearts? Long after the television vans with their saucer antennas have pulled out of Durham, long after the bloggers have grown weary from typing, those of us who believe in freedom and justice can not rest. How do we work to ensure that the final decisions in this case in no way deter women of color from making claims of violations against them which violate their spirits and their bodies?" — statement from William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP

"It was clear to me and a lot of other people that [Nifong] used this case to win the election. The sad thing about it is that it worked. I found that to be very discouraging about the political process. ... He had no name recognition before this case. I don't think anybody outside the courthouse knew who he was."-- Freda Black, a former Durham prosecutor who narrowly lost the 2005 Democratic primary for district attorney to Nifong.

"It's about time." — Bob Booth, retired CEO Durham Chamber of Commerce

"We need to move on. Durham really needs to move on." — Eugene Brown, Durham city councilman

"Folks were respectful of the rule of law, and at this time we feel that the judicial process has gone through avenues it needs to go through and we have confidence in the attorney general." — Statement from Andre Vann, executive secretary, Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People

“It’s been a year that’s really changed the picture for our neighborhood. As a result of this incident, there have been a lot of really positive changes that have happened between the Durham community and Duke.” — Jennifer Minnelli, just-elected president of the Trinity Park Neighborhood Association.

"For the attorney general to go as far as he did really indicates serious problems with the case and shows Mike Nifong is in serious trouble. The main thing is that there's no lingering question. These boys didn't just get off. It's not going to be pondered whether these guys bought their innocence. They didn't do anything." — Elliott Wolf, Duke's student body president.

"It confirms that there is a very great deal of damage that an official like a district attorney is capable of doing if they don't exercise their authority properly." — Paul Haagen, a Duke law professor and chairman of Duke's Academic Council

"We've got to learn from this, grow from this and get smarter from this." — Jack Winters, director of the Iron Dukes, the fundraising arm of Duke University athletics

"I don't think [Nifong] meant wrong, that it was a rogue attack. I think he went more with his passion than maybe his professionalism. He might have been wrong in some instances, but I don't think he was totally wrong." — A.J. Donaldson, an N.C. Central University senior

"The whole situation is so flaky at this point. I just question everyone's motives in the whole situation. Even to this day, I think there's some sympathy for [Mangum], but it has been prolonged and the university has gotten a lot of negative publicity. You don't know who to believe." Jason Jowers, N.C. Central University senior

"I think the district attorney went to the grand jury far sooner than he should have. If the district attorney had waited and gathered more information and tried to understand it, I think he would have had a better understanding of what the case was, and what is was not. On the other hand, he did have someone that said she was sexually assaulted, and that creates evidence in itself." — Lewis Cheek, Durham County commissioner who lent his name to a campaign last November to unseat Nifong

“Let’s be clear about what was said today. The Attorney General did not dismiss the allegations on narrow, equivocal or legalistic grounds. He determined our students to be innocent of the charges and said they were “the tragic result of a rush to accuse.” In short, he used the strongest language of vindication. ... As for Duke, while not reliving the past year, we won’t be afraid to go back and learn what we can from this difficult experience. ... During the past year, the world has known these young men, their teammates and a great university largely through the filter of unproven allegations. I trust that today’s decision will begin a new day for all involved.” — Richard H. Brodhead, Duke University president

“This matter has caused anguish for all parties involved. However, as a result, collaborations between North Carolina Central University and Duke University have grown stronger. NCCU and Duke engaged in some very important discussions and forums that enhanced our tolerance and raised awareness regarding race, class, sexual assault and athletic privilege.” — James H. Ammons, NCCU chancellor

“In light of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper's dismissal of all criminal charges against the three men, it is clear that this matter now cries out for oversight. I again urge ... a federal investigation to review Mr. Nifong's conduct to determine if it constitutes prosecutorial misconduct and has denied these students their civil rights as U.S. citizens under federal law.” — U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican whose district includes part of eastern North Carolina

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