JEFFREY BROWN: It was a case with a potent mix of race, sexual violence, and class. The alleged rape of a black woman who had been hired as a stripper at a party by three white members of Duke University’s lacrosse team.
It garnered headlines across the country, stirred turmoil at one of the nation’s leading universities, and then fell apart completely. In the end, North Carolina’s attorney general announced that the three players — Reade Seligmann, Colin Finnerty, and David Evans — were innocent and called Mike Nifong, the local district attorney who brought the case, "a rogue prosecutor."
A new book by Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson called "Until Proven Innocent" takes a hard look at what happened. Stuart Taylor, a longtime legal journalist and currently a columnist for the National Journal, joins me now.
Welcome to you.
STUART TAYLOR, Legal Journalist: Nice to be with you.
JEFFREY BROWN: You suggest that the flaws in this case were apparent from the very beginning from the police investigation. Give us a good example.
STUART TAYLOR: The woman who ended up claiming she’d been raped didn’t say anything about it for 90 minutes. She first claimed she has been raped while she was being checked into a mental hospital for involuntary confinement. That was her ticket out.
As soon as she was out, she recanted the rape allegation and told Sergeant John Shelton, "No, I wasn’t raped." And while he was calling that in, somebody says, "Well, she’s changed it again. During the course of the night, she said she had been raped by 20 men, five men, three men, four men, take your pick."
And her story continued to be wild and crazy and inconsistent and implausible, self-contradictory and contradicted by all medical evidence from that point forward. None of the police at the hospital believed her.