All charges against the Duke University lacrosse players accused of sexual assault were dropped on Wednesday. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced the dismissal of the charges at a press conference, saying that there was “insufficient evidence” to proceed with the case and that he believes the men are innocent.
The three men—Reade Seligmann, David Evans and Collin Finnerty—had been charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree forcible sexual offense for allegedly assaulting an African American exotic dancer at a party last year.
Doubts had been cast on the explosive case, which involved issues of race and class, since the early months after the party on March 13, 2006. A dancer hired to perform by members of the Duke lacrosse team claimed she was raped in a bathroom, but defense attorneys later released documents showing that she repeatedly changed details in her story. Another dancer hired for the party said that, while racial slurs were shouted, no rape took place, and no DNA evidence was found matching any of the lacrosse players.
In December, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong dropped first-degree rape charges against the men after the accuser expressed uncertainty about whether she had been penetrated during the alleged attack.
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