Nifong Hasn’t Interviewed the Accuser Yet

I find it rather surprising that the DA for Durham, Mike Nifong, has yet to interview the woman who has accused three Duke University lacrosse players of rape. I’m not a lawyer, but I would have thought that prior to bringing charges the DA would interview person making the accusations.1

The district attorney prosecuting three Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a woman at a team party said during a court hearing Friday that he still hasn’t interviewed the accuser about the facts of the case.

“I’ve had conversations with (the accuser) about how she’s doing. I’ve had conversations with (the accuser) about her seeing her kids,” Mike Nifong said. “I haven’t talked with her about the facts of that night. … We’re not at that stage yet.”

Nifong made the statement in response to a defense request for any statements the woman has made about the case.

Yeah, Nifong will get to that stage after they compare recipes for chocolate chip cookies and which is their favorite ice cream. I can’t tell you how unprofessional Nifong has appeared throughout this entire case.

Apparently the defense attorneys are thinking something similar,

Defense lawyers said outside court that they found Nifong’s statement surprising.

“One of the most interesting things to me of course is Mr. Nifong did admit that he in fact has basically never talked to this woman and has absolutely no idea what her story is, and yet he has chosen to continue to go forward with this case,” defense lawyer Joseph Cheshire said.

Nifong said none of his assistants have discussed the case with the woman either and only have spoken with her to monitor her well-being. They have left the investigation of the case to police, he said.

So, is Nifong’s office also some sort of helpline as well? Can anybody call up when they are feeling a little down or just need somebody to talk too?
1Generally, I suppose this wouldn’t happen, in that the DA doesn’t personally handle each and every case. However, Nifong used this case as a critical component in his re-election campaign, so an interview in this case would seem approrpriate. And even when the DA isn’t handling the case, I would expect the lawyer handling the case for the DA to conduct such an interview.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Law and the Courts, Race and Politics, US Politics, , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. This is really surprising. Nifong says back in March that he will personally be prosecuting the case and now he says he hasn’t interviewed the accuser 7 months later. And all of this after repeatedly saying he believes a rape has occurred.

    A couple of Nifong quotes (pre-primary of course).

    Here is right after the DNA came back negative.
    “”I’m not saying it’s over. If that’s what they expect, they will be sadly disappointed,” Nifong said Monday night. “They can say anything they want, but I’m still in the middle of my investigation. … I believe a sexual assault took place.””


    Asked whether the DNA tests hurt his case, Nifong said that cases are often won on eyewitness and victim testimony.

    “The absence of DNA doesn’t prove anything,” Nifong said.

    In March
    “The circumstances of the rape indicated a deep racial motivation for some of the things that were done,” Nifong said. “It makes a crime that is, by its nature, one of the most offensive and invasive even more so.”

    and also in March

    The district attorney’s office said team members deny the accusations, but admit there was underage drinking at the party. Otherwise, they are not cooperating with authorities. Nifong, who said Monday that he himself will prosecute the case, said authorities may apply for more search warrants in the case and that more charges for aiding and abetting may be possible against partygoers. “There’s a good chance, if someone had spoken up and said, ‘You can’t do this,’ it might not have happened,” said Nifong. — WRAL, March 27, 2006.

    In April
    District Attorney Mike Nifong was adamant Tuesday as he told members of the community — and a national TV audience that tuned in — that he still thought a Durham woman was sexually assaulted at a Duke University lacrosse team party.

    In May
    “I’m confident a sexual assault took place in that house,” Nifong said, echoing a statement he made earlier on in the investigation. “If I didn’t believe her, then I would not be basing any of my decisions on what she said.”

    At the end of July
    Nifong also said there was evidence he hoped to have in the case, such as DNA, but that it didn’t pan out.

    “There were things we hoped to have in terms of evidence that we ended up not having,” Nifong said.

    However, Nifong said that he stands behind the case.

    “I have not backed down from my initial assessments of the case,” Nifong said.

  2. Eneils Bailey says:

    Over time, Nifong started referring to his pending case as sexual assault rather than rape. This may indicate that he considers his case very weak and getting weaker as time passes. The recent interview on “60 Minutes” with the victim’s partner seems to have further weaken his case. At this point seems to be some bad behavior on the part of the “victim” and the accuser players on the night this incident took place. I am sure he will have his plate full if he plans to make Durham crime free by prosecuting bad behavior at college parties.
    Nifong and his staff need to get this case on the docket, present the evidence and let a jury decide. I think at this point he is trying to delay the case, hoping these young men will cope a plea to a lesser crime and allow him to save some face.
    In the end, if Nifong has no more evidence than he has now, he should be held to civil and criminal charges for abusing the power of his office.

  3. just me says:

    I can’t imagine the DA hasn’t once talked to the victim about that night at this point.

    I don’t believe him, maybe he personally hasn’t spoken with the victim, but I am not swallowing the idea that nobody in the office has interviewed her about what happened.

    I think he knows his case is not only weak, but is falling apart.

  4. I actually have heard an explanation that makes sense and fits the facts. If Nifong interviews the accuser, then any notes he makes about the conversation become discoverable by the defense. They get to look at the notes also. So by not meeting with her, he is keeping such items out of the hands of the defense.

    But think about that mindset a bit more. Is his duty to get a conviction (i.e. any dirty trick is fair as long as you don’t step over the legal line) or to see that justice prevails? By taking an action that makes it a little more likely he gets a conviction and depriving the defense of a tool to make it a little more likely that if their client is not legally liable that their client is falsely convicted, Nifong has answered the question. He is not going down the “Lets discover the truth and then go from there”, but “Lets hide the truth if it makes it more likely I can get a conviction”.

    And people wonder why the so many in the south really dislike the dregs of the democratic party that are left down here.

  5. Bithead says:

    Why his not talking to the “victim” about the nature of the supposed ‘crime’, would surprise anyone is a large question mark in my mind.

    After all, it’s been clear from nearly the outset, that this entire case was not based on facts.

  6. michael says:

    To be fair, we all know that memory, like a fine cigar, improves with the passage of time 😐