DA Drops Rape, Not Other Charges in Duke Lacrosse Case

Embattled DA Mike Nifong has dropped the rape charges against the Duke lacrosse players.

But he's leaving the sexual assault and kidnapping charges.

Nifong said he plans to proceed with kidnapping and sexual assault charges against the three players....

Nifong's investigator interviewed the woman Thursday, and she told the investigator that she couldn't testify "with certainty" that she was raped. Prosecutors said they couldn't proceed without her testimony, so they decided to dismiss the rape charges in the case.

Nifong's motion states she is no longer sure it was a p*nis that was inserted into her, as opposed to an object.

I also don't get the kidnapping. The alleged offenses took place at the party location. Perhaps false imprisonment, where you prevent someone from leaving, might apply if the facts show that, but kidnapping?

Nifong ought to dismiss all the charges. He has a non-credible accuser with enough baggage to sink the Titanic, he conducted a patently biased lineup procedure and there's been intentional withholding of exculpatory DNA evidence.

How much more do these three kids have to endure?

Update: Here is the sexual offense statute:

First Degree Sexual Offense [GS 14-27.4(a)(2), Class B1 felony]
Sexual acts (not vaginal intercourse) by force and without consent and
(a) with use of a weapon, (b) inflicting serious injury, or © aided by others.

Associated Press:

[Defense lawyer Joseph]Cheshire said Friday that the accuser now says she does not know if she was penetrated, which he said led District Attorney Mike Nifong to dismiss the rape charges.

The difference between the rape charge and sexual offense charge, from the indictment. The kidnapping charge is here.

Here is the applicable paragraph from today's motion.

The entire motion (2 pages) is here.

You can discuss the case in comments here, or over at the TalkLeft Duke Forums.

Update: LaShawn Barber here.

Update: Upon reflection, What did Nifong do other than to lower his burden of proof by obviating the need to prove vaginal penetration by a penis and providing him with an explanation for the lack of players' DNA found in her vagina?

Both Rape and First Degree Sexual Offense are B1 felonies. Aren't their penalties more or less the same? Doesn't conviction of both require mandatory prison and life-long registration as a sex offender?

The way I see this helping the players is that the accuser's credibility is further diminished. Her one-time claim it was a penis that penetrated her will come back to haunt her during cross-examination over and over again.

Questions: Does Nifong now get to prevent the defense from introducing evidence of others' DNA in her vagina?

It seems totally down to a credibility contest now. How can this accuser win?

I'm still troubled by the kidnapping charge. Is Nifong's charge that they forcefully held her in the bathroom and wouldn't let her leave enough? Doesn't Kim, Dancer #2, make this charge tougher to prove?

Update: Video of Defense press conference is here.

Update: Statement from Duke President Richard Brodhead:

“I am greatly relieved for the students and their families that the most serious of the charges has been dropped. Given the certainty with which the district attorney made his many public statements regarding the rape allegation, his decision today to drop that charge must call into question the validity of the remaining charges.

“The district attorney should now put this case in the hands of an independent party, who can restore confidence in the fairness of the process. Further, Mr. Nifong has an obligation to explain to all of us his conduct in this matter.”

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  • Display: Sort:
    prosecutorial misconduct in spades (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by orionATL on Fri Dec 22, 2006 at 08:15:22 PM EST
    why would a prosecutor leave the other charges hanging?

    same reason muslim "terrorists" plead to lesser charges.

    same reason felons with murder or drug charges plead to lesser charges.

    it's the prosecutor's ticket to freedom.

    if a prosecutor can intimidate or entice a "suspect" to accept some lesser charge, then he/she can always say "well, there  was something there. see, the defendant plead guilty to ------."

    the prosecutor is off the hook for misconduct.

    personally, i would love to see a (randomized) jury/grand jury  looking at the conduct of the prosecutor in questionable cases like the duke lacrosse case.

    just in sheer numbers of victim, prosecutors using other people's lives for their own political benefit has gone way too far in this country.

    well, this was pretty much inevitable (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Fri Dec 22, 2006 at 01:10:22 PM EST
    and now Nifong's trying to save some face by flailing at something - anything - in the way of a charge so he can say "I got a conviction".

    And then persuade the judge to sentence based upon uncharged conduct.

    I can't see false imprisonment, either - the woman went out to the car, no?

    Ironically, the press reports on this indicate Nifong went so far to avoid the press that he (or someone in his office) put a sign on his office door saying:  "No Media".

    Rape dropped (none / 0) (#2)
    by wlgriffi on Fri Dec 22, 2006 at 01:22:09 PM EST
    Now  come the diatribes from the likes of Nancy Grace about the males ALWAYS being guilty and getting off on technicalities. Save it NANCY. We've heard your biased opinion ad nauseum.

    wow, it took less time (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Fri Dec 22, 2006 at 01:49:46 PM EST
    than i thought. i figured he'd wait until at least february to drop it. good thing i had no cash riding on this.

    i'm a tad confused by the "kidnapping" charge. how exactly did they kidnap her? i thought she was there of her own volition?

    as far as the "unlawful imprisonment" aspect, wouldn't the state still have to prove that she was held against her will? given the complete lack of forensic evidence, and no apparent witnesses, other than the accuser, it wouldn't seem that mr. nifong has sufficient evidence to make his prima facie case, much less be allowed to actually go to trial on this.

    this really sounds like the accuser has begun to realize that she would have to testify, under oath, in any trial, and she's looking for a way out.

    just my opinion of course.

    Did this idiot Nifong get rejected by Duke? (none / 0) (#4)
    by bx58 on Fri Dec 22, 2006 at 07:35:03 PM EST
    What is his motivation besides trying to get re-elected? The election is over.