Can Duke Players' Reputations Be Repaired?

David Evans, Collin Finnerty, and Reade Seligmann CBS

Today, America was reminded justice isn't just blind — she can be slow.

Twenty-four-year-old David Evans graduated from Duke the day before he was indicted. His dream of working on Wall Street has been put on hold, CBS News national correspondent Byron Pitts reports.

Collin Finnerty, age 20, was suspended during his sophomore year. He's now an assistant lacrosse coach at his old high school outside New York City. His applications to other colleges have been deferred, awaiting today's outcome.

Reade Seligmann is 21. He, too, was suspended during his sophomore year. He also coaches lacrosse back home in New Jersey, with his college applications also on hold.

In Durham, N.C., they're referred to as "the Duke three." It's estimated that their parents spent a combined $3.5 million on lawyers.

Vindication is one thing. Restoring reputations is something else.

"The biggest losers here, I think, are the three students who were indicted," said James Coleman, a Duke University law professor.

Coleman has been a voice of reason from the beginning.

"As opposed to the rest of us, the city, the university, Duke students in general, I think that they will never overcome what happened," Coleman said.

How unfair is that?

"It is about as unfair as it gets," Coleman said.

For months is seemed District Attorney Mike Nifong couldn't say enough about the case.

Not now.

Pitts tried to talk with Nifong recently. His response: "Don't come into my yard."

"Can we talk to you for a second, sir?" Pitts asked.

Nifong shook his head "no," and turned his back when Pitts asked him "what would you say to these boys' families, Mr. Nifong?"

Today, Nifong lives in virtual seclusion as he awaits the outcome of an ethics investigation.

"The irony is — just like the students he indicted," Coleman said. "I mean, this is going to be an albatross around their neck and around his neck."

For one year, it's been a story of race and class tied together by an alleged crime.

"It was an American, kind of Southern novel," Coleman said. "It involved an elite university in the South with a historic history — but also a dark side of the history. It had race, it had sex, it had wealthy white students, it had a prosecutor who claimed that he was the white knight for the black community in Durham. And you put all that together and that's a pretty big story."

And in the end, when this novel is completed?

"In the end, it couldn't finish the story," Coleman said. "It fell apart."

But while books are easily rewritten, lives are not.

  • Christine Lagorio

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