Yesterday, four weeks after a woman alleged she was gang raped by three members of the Duke lacrosse team, Durham DA Mike Nifong for the first time said she’s identified one of her attackers. Or did he?
Today's Raleigh News & Observer headlined: "Nifong cites attacker ID, says more tests pending in lacrosse case."
The N&O reported:
At a forum at N.C. Central University on violence against women, Nifong told more than 400 people that the woman who reported being raped, sodomized and choked by three men at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. identified at least one of her attackers a week ago.The N&O didn’t quote Nifong.
Today’s Durham Herald Sun, reporting on the same forum, headlined: "Nifong hints victim ID'ed player."
The H-S reported:
At least one Duke lacrosse player has been identified as a suspect in the alleged gang rape of an exotic dancer last month, District Attorney Mike Nifong said Tuesday, and he suggested that the victim herself made the identification.The H-S went on to quote Nifong:
"Anytime that you have a victim who can identify her assailant, then what you have is a case that a judge would let go to the jury. Which means that in this situation I would expect that a jury would get to evaluate the evidence."The district attorney was serving as a forum panelist when he made his announcement as part of his response to a question from an audience member.
Did Nifong say the woman has identified one of her attackers, as The N&O reports, or is that uncertain, as The H-S reports, referring later in its story to a “purported identification?”
About 4 PM today I spoke with people at both papers connected with their paper’s stories. Both papers are standing by their stories as reported. An editor at The H-S added that journalists there have listened to a tape of the forum and are satisfied The H-S quoted Nifong accurately.
People at both papers said Nifong was not available for questions after the forum and has not responded to their calls and questions since.
Nifong could clear up any ambiguity regarding what he said with a brief press release.
He needs to do that, but it will still leave unanswered concerns and questions people have about what he said and did yesterday and his silence since.
I've talked with two attorneys who are not representing any of the Duke lacrosse players. Both were surprised Nifong didn’t do as is customary and inform the attorney representing the individual purportedly identified.
They were very critical of Nifong for making his announcement at a public forum on the campus of the historically black NCCU, which the woman attends. The woman, who is black, says her alleged attackers are white.
“Something this important you expect a DA to announce at a called press conference at his office,” one attorney said. "With Nifong involved in an election campaign, and the case having such a racial overtone, I think he showed very poor judgment."
The attorneys questioned why Nifong didn’t read his announcement from a prepared written statement that could then be distributed to media and others.
Nifong’s announcement and his silence since has raised questions in my mind. Here are a few of them:
The woman has alleged there were three attackers. Nifong refers to an ID of only one alleged attacker. What about the other two?
Can the woman only identify one attacker?
How and when was the ID made?
And why, after making his ID statement, has Nifong now thrown up a wall of silence?
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