60 Minutes Revisits The Duke Lacrosse Case

Specifically, with a long interview with Mike Pressler, the coach of the Duke lacrosse team at the time who was forced to resign after three of his players were falsely accused of raping a stripper hired for a team house party.

The stripper in question was later proven to be insane, and later killed a man. The district attorney who prosecuted the case for political reasons – he was in the midst of a tough re-election fight and was desperate to get the black vote – was later disbarred.

But Pressler had his reputation destroyed and was untouchable for a good while as a lacrosse coach. He finally resurfaced as the head coach at Bryant University in Rhode Island, then a Division II school, which he has turned into one of the better lacrosse teams in the country.

The athletic director at Duke who threw Pressler under the bus? Joe Alleva, the current athletic director at LSU. There has never been much scrutiny about Alleva’s actions, largely because he was carrying out orders from university president Richard Brodhead who would have served him up to the lynch mob had he stood for his athletes getting due process, but Pressler did write a book about the case and Duke’s treatment of it called “It’s Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Case and the Lives It Shattered.” From an AP report about the book’s release

Pressler also questioned actions by Duke University officials, recalling an April 5, 2006, morning meeting with athletics director Joe Alleva in which Pressler finds out the team’s season will be canceled.

“‘Joe, you told the players and the parents you believed their story, you believed in them, you believed that they were telling the truth,”‘ Pressler, in the book, recalls saying.

Pressler said Alleva told him it wasn’t about the truth anymore, according to the book passage.

Pressler says he pleaded with Alleva to wait for DNA results on his players, but a violently worded e-mail from player Ryan McFadyen about strippers came out later that afternoon. Alleva then told Pressler that Brodhead planned a news conference to announce Pressler’s resignation and the suspension of the season, according to the book.

Duke spokesman John Burness told The News and Observer newspaper in Raleigh, N.C., that university officials did not succumb to pressure and made decisions at the time based on what they believed was in the best interests of everyone involved.

“We were relying on the legal system to ultimately get to the truth, and that’s what ultimately happened with the attorney general’s actions,” Burness said.

That case, some nine years later, still stands as one of the most egregious abuses of the legal system and the media – and one of the shiniest examples of executive cowardice on the part of university officials – in modern American history. But to date, some involved with it have still managed to skate by without being held accountable.



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