Friday, November 03, 2006

Stripping and the Duke rape hoax

Duff Wilson:

The woman who accused three Duke University lacrosse players of raping and assaulting her after she was hired to strip at a party on March 13 went back to work at a strip club 10 days later, the owner of the club said in an interview on Thursday.

Defense lawyers said that information undercut the woman’s credibility because she would have been performing even as she continued to complain to doctors about pain.

The degree of the woman’s injuries has been central to the case. According to case files, detectives found that she had difficulty walking or sitting in the days immediately after she reported being attacked and that she told medical personnel up until several weeks later that her neck and back pains were a result of the attack.

Last month, “60 Minutes” broadcast a video excerpt that it said showed her dancing at a club two weeks after the party.

Victor O. Olatoye, owner of the Platinum Club in Hillsborough, N.C., where the woman worked, had signed an affidavit for the Durham district attorney saying she had not performed at his club since February, and that the video had to have been taken before March 13.

But in the interview Thursday, Mr. Olatoye, 44, said that after filing his affidavit on Oct. 18 he found records showing that the woman had worked on March 23, March 24 and March 25. Mr. Olatoye also said he recognized her dancing on the video, even though her face was obscured.

“I saw the clip and I believe that was her, yes,” he said, adding that she has not worked at the club since March 25.

Mr. Olatoye said that a day after he had signed the affidavit he told the district attorney’s office that he needed to change it. But an investigator for the office, Linwood Wilson, said Mr. Olatoye never told him about the new information, and added that he was now expected to file a new affidavit on Friday.

William J. Thomas II, a lawyer representing a lacrosse player who was not indicted, said the video showed a “vigorous dance routine.”

I would say someone who continues to dance and perform in these clubs as she has would be inconsistent with someone who was in great pain,” Mr. Thomas said.

The woman, who could not be reached for comment, complained of intense vaginal pain during a sexual assault exam on March 14 and then could barely walk or sit without pain on March 16, according to a case report by a police investigator.

Hospital records show visits on March 15, March 28 and April 3 in which she cited neck and knee pain from the alleged attack. In at least one visit, she asked for a narcotic painkiller. The woman had a history of neck and back pain and was taking Flexeril, a powerful muscle relaxant, the files show.

Joseph B. Cheshire, a lawyer for one defendant, said Mr. Olatoye’s statement was “powerful evidence.” Mr. Cheshire said the woman’s activities contradicted her claims of injury and her statement to Michael B. Nifong, the district attorney, that she was still too traumatized to talk about the case on April 11.

Why the Duke Hoax Continues

D.A. Nifong: My Political Need Trumps Wise Police Strategy

D.A. Nifong, Ruthless; Ruth Sheehan, Repentant


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