Duke Players’ Defense: DNA Doesn’t Tie Suspects to Rape

DURHAM, N.C. – According to an attorney for one of the Duke lacrosse players charged in the rape of an exotic dancer, none of the team’s members were implicated in the second round of DNA tests released May 12.

The tests did indicate, however, the victim had sex with another man who is not a student at the school.

Two Duke University lacrosse team members were charged April 18 in the rape. Defense attorneys say the grand jury will meet May 15 to indict a third player.

The victim and another dancer had been hired to perform on March 13 at a private party at an off-campus house owned by the school. She says she was pulled into the bathroom, beaten, kicked, strangled and raped by three men. After she escaped the dwelling, which was rented by the team’s three captains, she was driven to a local store where an employee called the police.

Authorities ordered 46 or the 47 players on the team to submit DNA samples to investigators. Attorneys for the athletes say, however, that the first round of tests also failed to connect any of the team members to the alleged rape.

Lawyers for both of the suspects say neither had any contact with the victim. Sources close to the defense say both can prove they were not at the house when the alleged incident occurred.

The case has raised racial tensions and increased animosity between the city of Durham and Duke’s affluent students. Officials are investigating whether the suspected attackers, who the dancer says were white, shouted racial epithets at the victim, who is black.

As a result of the allegations, Duke’s president suspended the nationally ranked team on March 28, and the team’s coach, Mike Pressler, resigned. Prior to the suspension, faculty members, students and residents protested several times against the team’s silence and Duke’s handling of the matter. The team captains expressed regret over their lapse of judgment in hiring strippers to perform at the party.

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