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Saturday, May 13th 2006

False Hope

The Defense spins the DNA evidence. Remember the DNA is not a full 13 point match (which means there is a good chance it is inadmissible in court), it came from a fingernail found in a trashcan (not exactly the purest site) and it even the partial match does not implicate either of the players currently indicted. As well, vaginal DNA testing implies that someone other than a lacrosse player had had recent sex with the accuser. Although, this is often a major hurdle in some rape prosecutions, as prosecutors must overcome the victim’s sexual personality and history.

Still, I’m not really sure where the evidence is in this case. It seems like it boils down to the accuser’s word versus a whole host of others (cab drivers, outcry witnesses, other lacrosse players) who seem to be backing the defense. As always of course, I should wait until the trial.

“There is no conclusive match of DNA,” attorney Joe Cheshire said.

However, the attorney said, semen obtained from vaginal swabs of the accuser indicated that she had sex with a man who is not a Duke student. Cheshire would not identify that man, saying it would not be fair to him.

Cheshire said DNA was found on a plastic press-on fingernail, but the genetic material did not belong to either of the players who have been indicted. He emphasized that the fingernail was taken from the trash can by two Duke players who rented the house where the rape is alleged to have occurred.

The players volunteered the fingernail to the Durham, North Carolina, police department after the players learned of the rape allegations, which Cheshire said was not behavior consistent with that of rapists.

Also, he said, the trash can from which the fingernail was taken contained toilet paper and cotton swabs that were full of DNA, so it would be more surprising not to find DNA on the fingernail.

“It would be a real story if there was no DNA that could show some genetic strain of some of the Duke lacrosse players who used that bathroom,” Cheshire said. “What a stunner that would be.”