Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong went on the offensive today after it was announced that initial DNA testing does not connect Duke University men's lacrosse players to an alleged rape.
"My presence here means this case is not going away," Nifong said to applause at a forum at North Carolina Central University, an historically black college. A student at the school accused three white members of the Duke lacrosse team of raping her at a party at a house off campus.
"You all know that if this happened at Central and the young lady was from another school or persuasion, the outcome would be different," said one person at the forum.
Nifong said the case is moving forward, seeming to indicate that the accuser was able to identify at least one of the alleged assailants. Pictures have been taken of 46 players.
"Any time that you have a victim that can identify her assailant then you have a case where the judge must let it go to the jury," he said.
Nifong's appearance at the charged forum drew scathing criticism from the players' lawyers, who accused him of pandering as he runs for re-election next month.
"Quite clearly, he appears to think this is the best thing that ever happened to him politcially," said defense attorney Joe Cheshire. "Why else would he do what no other prosecutor in this state would do?"
Concerns All Around
But prosecutors say the district attorney may have a simple strategy.
"The prosecutor is probably still trying to pressure some of the players to turn, getting more info from the victim and looking at more forensic evidence," said former prosecutor and legal analyst Wendy Murphy.
Whatever tactics both sides are using, many people at Duke and in the city of Durham think they are unfair to the accused and the accuser.
"You have minimalized [her] to a stripper and an exotic dancer," said Shawn Cunningham, a student at North Carolina Central. "You don't identify her as a mother. You don't identify her as a student. You don't identify her as a woman."
And a Duke student said the lacrosse players have been unfairly judged, saying "I think many of us owe the players an apology."
Residents and students in Durham worry the attention they are getting is making the city where they work and study look bad.
ABC News' John Berman reported this story for "World News Tonight."