- George Orwell - 1984
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Too Little, Too Late
Duke president apologizes to falsely accused lacrosse players.
Duke University President Richard Brodhead apologized Saturday for not better supporting the men's lacrosse players falsely accused in last year's highly publicized rape scandal.
Brodhead, speaking at the university's law school, said he regretted Duke's "failure to reach out" in a "time of extraordinary peril" after a woman accused three players of rape at a March 2006 party thrown by the team.
"Given the complexities of this case, getting the communication right would never have been easy," Brodhead said. "But the fact is that we did not get it right, causing the families to feel abandoned when they were most in need of support. This was a mistake. I take responsibility for it and I apologize for it."
As authorities began to investigate the allegations, Brodhead and the university initially suspended the highly ranked team from play. He later canceled the remainder of its season and ousted longtime coach Mike Pressler. Meanwhile, Durham County prosecutor Mike Nifong labeled the team "hooligans" as he searched for suspects.
But even as Nifong won indictments against players Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans, it became clear the allegations had no merit.
State prosecutors determined in February the accuser's story was a lie, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper called the three players innocent victims of Nifong's "tragic rush to accuse."
Nifong was disbarred in June for more than two dozen violations of the state bar's rules of professional conduct, including withholding results of critical DNA tests, and resigned from office. He spent one night in jail earlier this month after a judge held him in criminal contempt of court for lying to a court about having provided those test results to defense attorneys.