Duke Lacrosse Rape Scandal Prosecutor Disbarred for Ethics Violations
Mike Nifong, former Durham County District Attorney, has lost his license to practice law in the state of North Carolina.
A North Carolina Bar disciplinary committee voted unanimously to disbar Nifong after hearing evidence of numerous ethics violations in the handling of the Duke lacrosse rape case investigation.
DA Won’t Fight the Decision
Nifong fully expected and has accepted the punishment and has no plans to appeal the decision.
He had already resigned from his position as district attorney in Durham.
Nifong was found guilty of fraud, dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation; of making false statements of material fact before a judge; of making false statements of material fact before bar investigators, and of lying about withholding exculpatory DNA evidence.
In his position as district attorney Nifong aggressively sought to prosecute three Duke University lacrosse players for the rape of a stripper at a house party.
He publicly made misleading and inflammatory remarks about the players and even made a racial remark about the alleged victim in the case.
No one, except possibly Nifong himself, understands why he was so bent on prosecuting the three college athletes.
Allegedly Said There Were Big Problems in the Case
Privately he readily admitted to police investigators that there were huge problems with the case, including that the alleged victim’s statements were inconsistent and that there was no DNA evidence to support the allegations against the Duke lacrosse players.
One police investigator testified that he expressed his concerns about the case but it made no difference to Nifong.
He also testified that Nifong never pressed the accuser to explain why her story kept changing.
Reportedly, Nifong simply said that most rape cases are circumstantial and that the case was going to be hard to prove, but he was not going to drop the charges.
Nifong continued with the prosecution of all three men even when it was clear that one of the accused men, Reade Seligmann, had a rock solid alibi complete with time stamped photos, ATM receipts and testimony from a cab driver who took him home, all proving that he was not even at the party at the time the alleged attack happened.
Withheld DNA Evidence
When Nifong learned that none of the DNA recovered from the accuser matched any of the accused Duke athletes, he did not turn the evidence over to the defense.
Nifong testified that he thought that he had given the DNA information to the defense but did not realize until months later that he had not.
He said that his reaction when he found out about the missing DNA evidence was something like “oh crap”. The athletes were confident that the DNA evidence would clear them but instead Nifong dismissed the DNA test results and pressed forward with the indictments.
In January Nifong finally turned the case over to state prosecutors.
In April, all three men were cleared of all charges and the attorney general of North Carolina declared them innocent.
Attorneys for the three Duke lacrosse players who were falsely accused say they will request criminal contempt charges against Nifong.