Tort Law

Duke Settles With Players in Rape Case

The fallout continues over three former Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape. A settlement agreement, in an undisclosed amount, was announced Monday by Duke University concerning its treatment of three former men’s lacrosse team members. Meanwhile, litigation is likely and there could even be criminal sanctions against the now-disbarred lawyer who pursued the case despite evidence of their innocence.

The university expressed regret, in a written statement, about its suspension of the three players, who were accused by a stripper of having raped her at an off-campus team party. The settlement agreement– which was reached before any litigation was filed–precludes a lawsuit against the university, AP and Bloomberg report.

In a rush to judgment with which many others, including faculty members, were also in accord, the university suspended the players, cancelled the team’s season, and pressured the coach to resign soon after the alleged attack.

The three men were declared in April to be innocent by the North Carolina attorney general, and Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, who prosecuted the case, was disbarred Saturday, after an ethics trial. Lane Williamson, who chairs the ethics panel, called the prosecution “nothing short of a fiasco,” Bloomberg reports, and said Nifong was wrongly influenced by political, race and class considerations when he pursued the prosecution in the midst of his re-election campaign last spring. The players are white and the stripper–also a college student–is African-American.

Civil litigation is expected to be filed against Nifong soon, according to news reports, and USA Today says sanctions for failing to disclose relevant evidence to defense lawyers and even criminal prosecution of Nifong are possible.

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