Duke Lacrosse Case: District Attorney Nifong Breaks His Silence on Prior Rape Allegations

Reading a statement in an impromptu news conference, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong broke his silence, speaking about the Duke lacrosse case for the first time in weeks.

His subject: a 1996 police report that had surfaced Thursday describing allegations of a 1993 gang rape, filed by the accuser in the Duke lacrosse rape investigation.

The police report, obtained by The Associated Press, was filed by the alleged victim when she was 18, and she cited an incident that had taken place when she was 14. The police report lists the alleged crime as "statutory rape." The three men she accused in the report were never arrested or charged.

Police in Creedmoor, N.C., say they have no records showing that the alleged victim pursued the case against the three men, all of whom she knew prior to the alleged attack.

When asked whether the police report would be admissible as evidence in the Duke case, Nifong said, "The jury that decides the case may or may not hear the information reported by The Associated Press."

Nifong also mentioned having received five letters from victims of sexual assault, two of which were from former Duke students who were sexually assaulted by other Duke students during their time at the university.

Nifong had previously vowed not to comment on the case outside of the courtroom, clearly unhappy with media coverage of the case.

Today, he cited how "the media can have a substantial impact" -- positive or negative. Nifong breaks his silence just two four days before he faces a tough primary election, in which the Duke lacrosse case has become a central issue.

No Recollection of Previous Rape Complaint

Ted Pollard, Creedmoor's chief of police, said earlier today that aside from this report, he had no other documents or recollection of the case. The district attorney and assistant district attorney in office at the time of the 1993 incident don't either, he said.

Pollard said, "When [a rape case] comes to you four years later, you must have the alleged victim in order to pursue it. … I have no idea why she did not."

Kirk Osborn, a defense attorney for accused Duke University lacrosse player Reade Seligmann, said that no one on the defense team knew about this prior allegation until hearing it in media reports Thursday night.

"This is potentially very significant, but we need to know more about this accusation," he said. "We know her current accusation -- her second one -- has no merit."

What Her Family Says

While the police chief may not remember the allegations, the accuser's family does and has conflicting opinions on what happened in 1993.

The alleged victim's mother told the Herald-Sun newspaper in North Carolina that her daughter had gone to a psychiatrist after the first alleged rape and had put it behind her.

"She got over that in about a year," she said.

On Thursday, her father told The News & Observer newspaper in Raleigh, N.C., that his daughter had not been raped in the 1993 incident.

"They didn't do anything to her," he said.

The father said his daughter had been held against her will by a group of men who had picked her up from school in Durham and driven her to Creedmoor. She was not sexually assaulted or injured in the encounter, he said, and she was returned home safely the same day.

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