Duke's lacrosse team suspended pending DNA results

DURHAM, N.C. -- About a third of the members of the Duke men's lacrosse team -- embroiled in a rape investigation that caused the school to suspend the team from playing -- have been previously charged with misdemeanors stemming from drunken and disruptive behavior in the past three years, according to court documents quoted in Tuesday's editions of the Raleigh News and Observer.

Fifteen of the 47 members of the team have been charged with offenses ranging from underage alcohol possession, violating open container laws, loud noise and public urination, according to the News and Observer.

The paper said that most of those charges were resolved in deals with prosecutors that allowed the players to escape criminal convictions.

On Tuesday, Duke University's president suspended
the school's highly ranked lacrosse team from play until school
administrators learn more about allegations that several team
members raped an exotic dancer at an off-campus party.

"In this painful period of uncertainty, it is clear to me, as
it was to the players, that it would be inappropriate to resume the
normal schedule of play," president Richard Brodhead said Tuesday.

Brodhead met with students Wednesday morning to discuss the
incident in a forum closed to reporters, Duke spokesman Geoffrey
Mock said.

"It was a meeting at which the students could share their
thoughts about the topic," Mock said. He did not know how many
attended but said the meeting was open to all students.

"I don't want to say I'm satisfied, but I will say that what
happened in there makes me feel like we're moving in a good
direction," sophomore Bridgette Howard said after the roughly
hourlong session.

"We understand that the legal system is that you are innocent
until proven guilty," said sophomore Kristin High. "But people
are nervous and afraid that these people are going to get away with
what they did because of a wealthy privilege, or male privilege, or
a white privilege."

A woman told police she and another dancer were hired to perform
March 13 at a private party in an off-campus home. The dancer, a
student at North Carolina Central University, told police she was
pulled into a bathroom, beaten, choked and raped by three men.

No one has been charged.

Police took DNA samples with a cheek swab from 46 of the lacrosse team's 47 players last week. The 47th player, the only black member of the team, did not have to provide DNA because the dancer said her attackers were white. The
dancer is black.

Police said three players who live at the house where the party
took place spoke with investigators and voluntarily provided
samples March 16. A scheduled meeting between detectives and the
rest of the team was later canceled by the players' attorney, and
District Attorney Mike Nifong said Wednesday the players still
refuse to speak with investigators.

"I needed to have the information about who will be charged," said District Attorney Mike Nifong said. "I feel pretty confident that a rape occurred."

Brodhead said team captains notified athletic director Joe
Alleva on Tuesday that players wanted to stay off the field until
the DNA results came back from a crime lab. In a statement, the
captains predicted the DNA testing would clear the players of

The case has roiled the campus and raised racial tensions. It
has also heightened antagonism between the affluent students at
Duke, which costs about $43,000 a year, and the city of Durham,
which has a large population of poor people and is about evenly
divided between white and black.

"The circumstances of the rape indicated a deep racial
motivation for some of the things that were done," Nifong said. "It makes a crime that is by its nature one of the most offensive and invasive even more so."

Nifong said the team members are standing together and refusing
to talk with investigators, and he warned he may bring
aiding-and-abetting charges against some of the players.

A lawyer representing several lacrosse team members did not
immediately return calls Tuesday.

Angry over the team members' silence and the university's
handling of the case, Durham residents have demonstrated on and off
campus in the past few days. They rallied outside the house where
the alleged attack occurred and gathered outside of Duke provost
Peter Lange's home, where they banged on pots and pans until he
emerged to answer questions.

Lange said Monday that he believes "the students would be
well-advised to come forward. They have chosen not to."

Alleva had already forced the team
to miss two games because of underage drinking and the hiring of
dancers at the party. Duke, considered a national title contender
before the season began, has a 6-2 record with five regular-season
games to go.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report