Duke Lacrosse Coach Quits; Season Canceled
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) _ A lacrosse player’s e-mail vow to kill and skin strippers in his Duke University dorm room has started a chain reaction resulting in his coach’s resignation, the season’s cancellation and an internal probe into the university’s response to alleged violence by athletes.
Wednesday’s cascade of events were the latest fallout from allegations that three players on the lacrosse team raped a stripper at an off-campus party on March 13.
No charges have been filed in the case, but the player who wrote the e-mail has been suspended, and Duke President Richard H. Brodhead promised a ``very, very serious self-study″ of campus culture.
``I pledge that Duke will respond with appropriate seriousness when the truth is established,″ he wrote in a letter to the community.
Students and townspeople have marched almost daily since the alleged attack on the stripper, a student across town at North Carolina Central University. The woman, who is black, claims three white players pulled her into a bathroom and assaulted her.
Protesters are angry over the school’s handling of the allegations and the team members’ refusal to cooperate with police. Investigators have said the athletes are sticking together and keeping silent.
Authorities have taken DNA samples from the team’s 46 white players. The sole black player has been ruled out. District Attorney Mike Nifong has said that he is ``pretty confident that a rape occurred,″ but that he does not expect to file charges until next week.
The team’s co-captains have acknowledged hiring the stripper and serving alcohol but have denied that anyone was sexually assaulted at the party.
On Wednesday, authorities unsealed documents stating that less than two hours after the alleged rape, a player sent an e-mail saying he was planning an encore to ``tonights (sic) show.″ The message, addressed ``To whom it may concern,″ said, ``however there will be no nudity.″
``I plan on killing the bitches as soon as the(y) walk in and proceding to cut their skin off,″ the author wrote, adding in vulgar terms that he would find the act sexually satisfying. The e-mail was signed with what police said is the player’s jersey number.
The player’s name does not match the three names the woman gave to police as her attackers.
N.C. Central Chancellor James Ammons called the e-mail ``very disturbing″ and encouraged students to remain calm.
``We do not want anyone from the NCCU family to seek retribution or take matters into their own hands,″ Ammons said in a statement. ``We have to exercise a great level of civility as we await the outcome of this investigation. I am encouraging our students to continue to show support for the alleged victim and to continue to plan events that better educate individuals about sexual violence and racism.″
Brodhead said the e-mail’s author was the only player suspended so far, and that the man was removed from campus. He also said he has heard that other lacrosse team members have changed their places of residence for safety reasons.
``The court released today a previously sealed warrant, whose contents are sickening and repulsive,″ Brodhead said in announcing the cancellation of the rest of the season. Last week, he suspended the team from play.
Shortly after the e-mail’s release, lacrosse coach Mike Pressler resigned, ending a 16-year tenure marked by three Atlantic Coast Conference championships and a trip to last year’s national final.
Brodhead would not say whether Pressler’s resignation was requested, saying only, ``When it was offered, I thought it was highly appropriate.″
Brodhead followed his decision to cancel the season by announcing a series of steps that Duke plans to address the allegations, including examining the culture of the lacrosse team and investigating the school’s response to the scandal.
The aim, he said, is to uncover whether ``is there a special history of bad behavior with this team.″
The investigation of Duke’s response will be conducted by William Bowen, president of the Andrew Mellon Foundation and a past president of Princeton University, and Julius Chambers, former director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and a past NCCU chancellor.
The university’s critics have complained that it has taken three weeks to take these actions. There have been nearly daily protests on and off campus.
Coincidentally, the e-mail’s author attended a ``Take Back the Night″ march on campus on March 29.
``I completely support this event and this entire week,″ the player told The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper. ``It’s just sad that the allegations we are accused of happened to fall when they did.″
The player’s attorney, Glen Bachman, took over his representation late Wednesday from attorney Robert Ekstrand, who said earlier in the day that while its language was vile, ``the e-mail itself is perfectly consistent with the boys’ unequivocal assertion that no sexual assault took place that evening.″
Bachman declined to comment on the e-mail and its contents.
In the warrant to search the player’s room, police provided a detailed timeline of the alleged attack and some additional details of their investigation. The warrant also adds conspiracy to commit murder as one of the crimes police are investigating.
Associated Press writer Emery P. Dalesio contributed to this report.
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