N.C. ATTORNEY GENERAL REVEALS NEW DETAILS ON WHY THE DUKE DEFENDANTS WERE INNOCENT, INCLUDING HOW THE ACCUSER CHANGED HER STORY SEVERAL MORE TIMES DURING HIS INVESTIGATION -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
Roy Cooper Calls District Attorney Michael Nifong's Behavior "Offensive" and Says the Accuser's Many Contradictory Stories Were Never Challenged
Colin Finnerty Reacts to Nifong's Apology
In his first interview since declaring three former Duke University lacrosse players innocent of all charges stemming from a rape accusation, North Carolina's attorney general says he was offended by the behavior of the Durham district attorney who pursued the case for nearly a year. Attorney General Roy A. Cooper also reveals new evidentiary details on why the young men were declared innocent, in an exclusive interview to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, April 15 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
The report also includes the first interviews with Colin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans since the three former Duke athletes learned that all charges were dropped. Of today's apology issued by Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong, Finnerty tells Stahl: "It may be an apology, but it doesn't make me feel any better...for what I've gone through. It was his actions more than anybody's that caused the harm. I don't think anyone is going to feel better after that apology."
"When you have a prosecutor who takes advantage of his enormous power and overreaches like this, then yes, it's offensive," Cooper tells Lesley Stahl. It's an affront to the more careful prosecutors who do their jobs well every day, says Cooper. "All of them were offended by a prosecutor who didn't take the time to make sure that he had all of the facts straight before leveling charges."
He says contradictions in the accuser's earlier statements clearly indicated that an attack never occurred, but neither Nifong nor his staff challenged her. "We don't think that any of these tough questions were asked of her," says Cooper. What's more, says Cooper, the accuser's story continued to change as his investigators talked to her. "We started out knowing we had a problem...and the way it turned out, it was much worse than we thought." Cooper's team also thought she was possibly inebriated. "Our investigative team who was to meet her that day believed that she was under the influence of something."
Among the new stories the accuser told was a fantastic account of the rape in which she contradicts the account she gave Nifong that led to him dropping rape charges back in December. "She was suspended in mid air and was being assaulted by all three of them in the bathroom," Cooper recalls the accuser saying. "And I've been in that bathroom and it was very difficult for me to see how that could have occurred." Cooper's investigators were shocked by the situation. "A number of them said to me, 'I've never seen anything like this.' It was amazing how she could continue to tell different stories."
When the accuser was confronted with pictures from the night of the party that contradicted her statements, she answered irrationally. "It was usually that the picture was doctored or 'that just can't be true,' or 'Duke University paid someone off,'" Cooper says. The accuser has a history of mental illness and Cooper and his staff viewed her medical file; he refuses to reveal its contents, but says he believes the woman is getting help.
Cooper says he used the word "innocent" to describe the three young men "because it wasn't a situation where it was just insufficient evidence... because what had gone on for so long was a tragedy. It should never have happened."
David Evans appreciates the gesture, but says Cooper can't change the facts. "Innocent might be a part of that, but that's just an adjective....When I die, they'll say, 'One of the three Duke lacrosse rape suspects died today. He led a life and did this, but he was one of the three Duke lacrosse rape suspects,'" Evans tells Stahl.