DURHAM, N.C. -- The woman who prosecutors determined falsely
accused three Duke lacrosse players of sexual assault maintains in a new
memoir that she was attacked, a claim that provoked an angry
lawsuit threat from one player's family.
Crystal Mangum, who appeared publicly Thursday for the first
time since making the allegations more than two years ago, says in
her book being made available online Friday that she is not
"looking forward to opening old wounds" but that she had to
"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 an
excerpt of the book, "The Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum
"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," she writes.
Mangum's remarks drew an immediate rebuke from attorneys, and
the family of one exonerated player said they were considering a
lawsuit. Jim Cooney, who represented player Reade Seligmann in the
criminal case, said attorneys would review the contents of the
"For 2½ years, this woman has attempted to destroy Reade's
life," Cooney said. "We aim to put a stop to it."
Mangum told police that she was attacked at a March 2006
lacrosse team party where she was hired to perform as an exotic dancer.
After a disastrous local prosecution that eventually led to
the downfall of the district attorney, the state attorney general's
office concluded there was no credible evidence an attack ever
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
Mangum declined to answer questions about case details Thursday,
including when asked directly whether Seligmann, Dave Evans and
Collin Finnerty -- the three cleared players -- attacked her. Vincent
Clark, co-author and publisher of the book, said repeatedly "the
case is closed" and Mangum accepts the conclusions of state
"At this point, it doesn't really matter," she said. "What
matters is for people to know my account of what happened and for
all of us to learn from it."
Seligmann's father, Phil Seligmann, called Mangum's comments
"simply a pathetic attempt to further her need to remain in the
public eye at the expense of demonstrably innocent individuals."
"Her incoherent passages are not based on facts but are quite
simply false ramblings," Seligmann said in a statement. "She
ignores all of the verifiable facts of the case.
"No crime of any kind took place involving Ms. Mangum or any
member of the Duke men's lacrosse team. We are presently evaluating
all available legal options. If Ms. Mangum and those associated
with her continue to slander Reade, we will have no choice and will
not hesitate to utilize these options," he said.
An attorney who defended Evans in the criminal case was also
quick to denounce Mangum's remarks, saying her allegation hurt the
accused players, the state and all women who have been victims of
"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."
Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans filed a federal civil rights
lawsuit last year accusing then-Durham County district attorney Mike 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." But they have never named
Mangum as a defendant in any legal action.
The Associated Press had not previously identified Mangum per
its policy of not identifying 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
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 Nifong that she could no longer be sure the attackers had sexually assaulted her.
Nifong then dropped the rape charge against Seligmann, Finnerty
and 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.
Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office,
declined to comment on Mangum's remarks, as did Candy Clark, an
administrative assistant in the Durham County district attorney's
office, and Kevin Finnerty, Collin's father.
Seligmann and Finnerty have since transferred from Duke. Evans
graduated the day before he was indicted in May 2006.