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Mike

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We've been through this before:
On April 11, 2007, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper stepped before a crowded press conference and spoke the words that ended one of the most publicized legal stories in recent American history. “We believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges,” he said.

Cooper’s long-awaited decision ended a legal ordeal for three Duke University students who had been charged with first-degree sexual offense, kidnapping and, earlier, with rape. The allegations were made by one of two exotic dancers that members of the Duke men’s lacrosse team had hired to perform at an off-campus party in March 2006. Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong stated publicly that a rape had taken place and prosecuted the three students vigorously even as evidence mounted that raised serious questions about the accuser’s credibility and the veracity of the charges.

Cooper took over the case in January 2007 after the state bar association filed ethics charges against Nifong for withholding exculpatory evidence and making inflammatory statements about the case. In dismissing the charges and stating the attack never occurred, Cooper spoke of a “rush to accuse” and said “there were many points in this case where caution would have served justice better than bravado." In one of the many similar judgments made about how the news media covered the case, columnist David Broder described “a painful exercise in journalistic excess.”

The case changed the lives of the three young men and their families and deeply affected the broader Duke community, which found itself in the spotlight with major stories in The New York Times, Newsweek, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated and thousands of other outlets. Five segments on “60 Minutes” were devoted to the case, as were extensive commentaries on blogs and tabloid television shows.
 

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