Alleged Rape Victim Feels Attack Claim Not Taken Seriously

ByABC News via via logo

April 13, 2006 — -- The family of the woman who was allegedly raped by Duke lacrosse players at an off-campus party says the college student and mother of two feels her accusations are not being taken seriously because of her job. She works as an exotic dancer.

"The thing that really bothers me about the whole thing is that they're portraying her as this Jezebel," said the young woman's cousin, who asked not to be identified.

Because of the nature of the case, the alleged victim's identity has been kept secret, but some facts about her are known.

She is 27, a mother of two, and a student at North Carolina Central University. Her family said she danced so she could afford college tuition while raising two young children on her own.

Tuition at North Carolina Central is $3,600 per year. A dancer in Durham, N.C., can make $100 and up per party, plus tips.

Last year, ABC's "20/20" talked to women who stripped to pay for school and found it was not all that uncommon.

"This is, for better or for worse, probably the best-paying job I'll ever have," Stephanie, one of the strippers featured, told "20/20." "This is not a job you want for that long because it's really draining."

The alleged victim in the Duke case says just because she is a dancer doesn't mean her case should be dismissed, according to her family members. The district attorney acknowledges he's been urged by some to drop the case, in part because of what the young woman does.

"To say, well, you know, her profession was not really the most honorable in the world, we really don't have the strongest case in the world because there's no DNA, so let's forget about it," Mike Nifong said. "Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's not doing your job."

Fellow students at North Carolina Central are rallying around the alleged victim.

"Getting raped and beaten is not what an exotic dancer does," one student told ABC News. "She was there to dance."

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