Monday, April 17, 2006

Indictments in the Duke Lacrosse Scandal

A state grand jury in Durham, North Carolina, today issued indictments against two Duke lacrosse players stemming out of an alleged sexual assault that took place at a Duke lacrosse team party last month. The indictments are currently sealed and will remain so until the two Duke lacrosse players turn themselves in or are arrested. I have no opinion on the indictments because I have no clue what evidence the local prosecutors currently have. Most of what has been reported in the press has been negative for the prosecutors, whether it be the lack of a DNA match or the police finding the victim passed out drunk on the date of the incident. However, it should be noted that most of the information about the case has been coming from the defense lawyers who obviously have an interest to leak potential exculpatory information to the press.

While I have no opinion on the indictment, I hope the District Attorney, Mike Nifong, is bringing these indictments because he believes he can convict these two lacrosse players and not because these indictments will placate the angry mob in Durham and therefore, aid him in getting re-elected. We should know over the next few months whether these charges are legitimate or a politically motivated witchhunt.

UPDATE (4/18): Sophomore lacrosse players, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, are the two individuals who were indicted yesterday and arrested today. The indictment can be found here. The DA's Office is still trying to identify who the third subject is. It appears that the defense is going to be that neither of them were at the party during the time of the alleged rape. Time will tell whether the defense can come up with evidence to support that.

While finding the indictment, I also found a copy of a search warrant the Durham Police filed on March 27, to search the dorm room of Ryan McFadyen, a sophomore lacrosse player, who wrote an e-mail shortly after the alleged rape about having strippers come over to his dorm room and then killing them and skinning them while "cumming in my duke issue spandex." Charming. The search warrant contains some details on the government's case including the victim's story. While the details are somewhat scant in the warrant, it appears that the prosecutors have quite a bit of physical evidence to indicate that a rape did occur.