Duke Lacrosse Case: America's Top Sex Crimes Expert Cites Serious Problems

ByABC News
March 21, 2007, 6:34 PM

March 21, 2007 — -- With the Duke lacrosse investigation in its final weeks, Linda Fairstein, the former head of the Manhattan District Attorney's Sex Crimes Unit and one of the nation's leading experts on sex crimes, told ABC News that she would be shocked if the case went forward.

Having investigated and prosecuted thousands of rape cases, Fairstein has a special ability to evaluate the strength of the case. A pioneer in the field and an advocate of victims' rights, Fairstein points to serious flaws in the investigation and in the evidence that has surfaced to date.

"If a prosecutor were to take this to court, given all the changes in the accuser's story, I don't think there is a crime for which these young men could be convicted," said Fairstein.

Once the investigation concludes, the North Carolina Attorney General's office is expected to announce whether it will take the case to trial or drop charges currently pending against three indicted lacrosse players, David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann. Rape charges against the three men were dropped in December, but they still stand accused of kidnapping and sexual offense.

In the accuser's retelling of the incident, recorded by investigators and hospital personnel in the weeks after the party, she revised substantive details of the alleged incident, including the number of assailants and what they did during the attack.

Given her 30 years as a prosecutor, Fairstein finds it unusual for an accuser's story to change as much as far into the process as it did in this case.

Some changes in a victim's story are not uncommon "within a day or two of the attack," said Fairstein. "Six to eight months later is not when the story begins to shake out. It's in the days that follow."

As of March 16, she had not yet told that story to special prosecutors investigating the case. Law enforcement sources told ABC News that in at least two initial meetings with those officials, the accuser was not forthcoming and hesitated to answer investigators' questions.