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Duke Case Collapse

Here's how Duff Wilson and Jonathan Glater of the New York Times characterize Mike Nifong's case against the Duke lacrosse players:

When a woman hired to dance at a Duke University lacrosse team party claimed that members of the team raped her, Michael B. Nifong, the district attorney for Durham County, responded with an aggressive, unflinching and very public investigation.

"There's no doubt in my mind that she was raped and assaulted at this location," Mr. Nifong said on national television after the case surfaced in March. Mr. Nifong called other lacrosse players "hooligans" who had aided, abetted or covered up for the rapists. Local police officers seemed equally certain that they had a horrific crime to solve.

But in the intervening months, the case has come to appear far less robust.

Just calling it a 'bust' would be more accurate. Almost every single piece of evidence that has come out in this case has favored the defense. Even the cornerstone of the prosecution's case, the medical exam from Duke hospital that found the accuser had "injuries consistent with being raped and sexually assaulted vaginally and anally," now looks to be much less conclusive than what DA Mike Nifong (and the press and everybody else) made it out to be, especially now that court papers have been filed alleging the accuser "had sex with at least four men and a sexual device in the days immediately leading up to the off-campus party." That group includes the accuser's boyfriend, whose seminal fluid is the only substance conclusively to have been found in or on the accuser so far, despite the fact she told police that the thirty-minute long gang rape she claims took place in the early morning of March 14 did not involve the use of condoms.

In other words, the DA's case is in shambles. As I've written before, however, Nifong's determination to proceed with this case, despite botching the identification process and indicting at least one player who has a seemingly air-tight alibi Nifong seems to have been unaware of, puts him in the disastrous position of having become personally invested in the outcome. The New York Times article ends with a similar conclusion:

Mr. Vann said Mr. Nifong could drop the case, but the political price would be high. "He'd have hell to pay from the African-American community," he said. "They'd say, 'Give her her day in court. What do you have to lose? If you lose, at least the jury made the decision.' So he's kind of stuck."

Nifong didn't stand up to the African-American community prior to the election, so there is no reason to think he'll do it now. As Thomas Sowell suggested not long ago, it looks like Nifong's strategy - and his best hope for minimizing potential damage from the growing likelihood of the case either being thrown out or resulting in acquittals - is to stretch out the process and hope the country gets bored with the story and moves on to something else.