The woman who North Carolina prosecutors determined falsely accused three Duke lacrosse players of raping her at a team party maintains in a new memoir that she was attacked.
Crystal Mangum, who appeared publicly Thursday for the first time since making the allegations more than two years ago, says in her forthcoming book she is not “looking forward to opening old wounds” but that she had to defend herself.
“Even as I try to move on with my life, I still find it necessary to take one more stand and fight,” she writes in the book, “The Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum Story.”
“I want to assert, without equivocation, that I was assaulted. Make of that what you will. You will decide what that means to you because the state of North Carolina saw fit not to look at all that happened the night I became infamous.”
Mangum told police that she was attacked at a March 2006 lacrosse team party where she was hired to perform as a stripper. After a disastrous local prosecution that eventually led to downfall of the district attorney, the state attorney general’s office concluded there was no credible evidence an attack ever occurred.
An attorney who defended one of the players in the criminal case quickly denounced Mangum’s remarks, saying her allegation hurt the accused players, the state and all women who have been victims of sexual assault.
“If Crystal Mangum truly wants to heal, get on with her life and have others learn from her experiences, she would admit her lies and the damage they did,” Joseph Cheshire said in an e-mail. “The fact that she will not do that makes all of her motives and self-possessed desire to explain herself another lie. This is about money and lies. Pure and simple.”
Mangum declined to answer specific questions about the details of the case on Thursday, and the publisher of the book said repeatedly “the case is closed” and she accepts the conclusions of state prosecutors.
“At this point, it doesn’t really matter,” she said Thursday. “What matters is for people to know my account of what happened and for all of us to learn from it.”
The state’s investigation found there was no DNA or medical evidence, or witness accounts, that confirmed Mangum’s story. The inconsistencies in Mangum’s account, the state found, “were so significant and so contrary to the evidence that the State had no credible evidence that an attack occurred in the house that night.”
The Associated Press had not previously identified Mangum per its policy of not naming people who say they are victims of sexual assault, even after public statements clearing the players. The AP decided to name Mangum once she came out publicly on her own.
Mangum’s version of the alleged assault varied in the number of assailants, and whether she was ever assaulted at all. At one point, state prosecutors noted, she said that photos taken at the party that contradicted her story were altered.
The biggest change in her account came in December 2006, when Mangum told an investigator for former Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong that she could no longer be sure the attackers had raped her.
Nifong then dropped the rape charge against the three indicted players, Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans, leaving kidnapping and sexual offense charges in place. The case continued to unravel, and state Attorney General Roy Cooper eventually declared the players innocent victims of a “tragic rush to accuse” in April 2007.
Nifong was later disbarred for more than two dozen violations of the bar’s rules of professional conduct in his handling of the case. He ultimately spent one night in jail for lying to a judge.
Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans filed a federal civil rights lawsuit last year accusing Nifong, the city of Durham, police investigators and others of conducting “one of the most chilling episodes of premeditated police, prosecutorial and scientific misconduct in modern American history.” The families have not sued Mangum.