Duke Lacrosse Rape Charges Dropped

The Duke rape case is no longer a rape case.

Prosecutors dropped rape charges Friday against three Duke University lacrosse players accused of attacking a stripper at a team party, but the three still face kidnapping and sexual offense charges, a defense attorney said.

Joseph Cheshire and attorneys for the other players have said for months the woman told several different versions of the alleged assault. Cheshire said Friday that the accuser now says she does not know if she was penetrated, which he said led District Attorney Mike Nifong to dismiss the rape charges.

So, these players have been dragged through the mud for months and their entire season was canceled on the word of a woman too stupid to know whether she was penetrated?! Unbelievable.

UPDATE: Jeralyn Merritt has some excellent analysis. Some snippets:

Nifong ought to dismiss all the charges. He has a non-credible accuser with enough baggage to sink the Titanic, he conducted a patently biased lineup procedure and there’s been intentional withholding of exculpatory DNA evidence.


Upon reflection, What did Nifong do other than to lower his burden of proof by obviating the need to prove vaginal penetration by a penis and providing him with an explanation for the lack of players’ DNA found in her vagina?

Both Rape and First Degree Sexual Offense are B1 felonies. Aren’t their penalties more or less the same? Doesn’t conviction of both require mandatory prison and life-long registration as a sex offender?

The way I see this helping the players is that the accuser’s credibility is further diminished. Her one-time claim it was a penis that penetrated her will come back to haunt her during cross-examination over and over again.

Frankly, Nifong and this accuser–whose name gets protected even though those she falsely accuses get smeared–ought to be in jail. Unfortunately, our society presumes victimhood on any who who claim rape and automatically presumes guilt on those so charged. And we assume grandstanding prosecutors are actually working in the public interest, rather than two-bit politicians trying to advance their career at someone else’s expense. In most cases, those assumptions are all true. When they’re not, however, the results can be devastating.



OTB Sports

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Sports, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I’m sorry, but to uphold charges of “kidnapping” and “sexual offense” on the word of a person who first claimed oral, anal and vaginal penetration seems a bit much here.

    What it does do is make the case much muddier. If she said “I’m leaving”, one of the guys stepped in front of her and said “Please stay”, that could be twisted into a kidnapping. But I suspect that all the versions of the testimony are going to come out in cross examination and it will take an OJ jury to get a conviction based on her word.

  2. David Harris says:

    Ridiculous. Keep this farce of a case warm long enough for Nifong to win re-election, then drop the case. Screw the players, they’re just spoiled rich kids who “had it coming.” This is an embarrassment.

  3. Davidrnaz says:

    now that there’s no longer a rape charge, I assume the media won’t protect this delicate young lady’s identity anymore and she can enjoy the same media scrutiny that the defendants have had for the last 10 months.

  4. Steve Verdon says:

    Dang it James, I was just going to post on this. 😉

  5. Kent G. Budge says:

    I’m disappointed the DA insists on continuing to pursue those charges that have not been absolutely, positively disproved by the DNA evidence. If there is ever a time when De minimis non curat lex applies, this is it.

  6. The Duke rape case is no longer a rape case.

    It never was a rape case, if we are being honest.

  7. everybody says:

    Crystal Gail Mangum, who isn’t a rape victim, claimed in graphic detail that she was gang raped vaginally, orally, and anally by three men in a bathroom – medical and police evidence never supported such a claim, yet Mike Nifong rail roaded three innocent boys, destroyed their reputations, and dragged this case out for almost a year. Ms. Mangum swore under oath months ago that she was 100% sure that two of the boys raped her and 90% sure that the other one raped her. Crystal destroyed the lives of innocent boys and Mike Nifong had a great part in the propogation of this rape lie. They both deserve prison time.