Duke Lacrosse To Play Next Season?

A Duke University committee recommended its men's lacrosse team resume play next season, but said the team had a history of problems tied to alcohol and needed strict monitoring.

"Although the pattern of misconduct in recent years by the lacrosse team is alarming, the evidence reviewed ... does not warrant suspension of the sport," a committee of seven faculty members wrote in a report released Monday night.

Duke suspended the highly ranked lacrosse team from play last month, following allegations that a 27-year-old black student at a nearby university hired to strip at a March 13 team party was raped and beaten by three white men.

A grand jury has indicted two players on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual assault, and District Attorney Mike Nifong has said he hopes to charge a third person.

The report released Monday night did not consider the rape allegations, but instead focused on the behavior of the team during the past five years. It found that while the team performed well academically and athletically, "a large number of the members of the team have been socially irresponsible when under the influence of alcohol."

"We looked closely but found no compelling evidence to support claims that these players are racist or have a record of sexual violence," said Duke Law School professor James E. Coleman Jr., who chaired the faculty committee that prepared the report.

The rape allegations led Duke to accept the resignation of coach Mike Pressler and begin several internal investigations, including the examination of the lacrosse program.

The two players charged — sophomores Reade Seligmann, of Essex Fells, N.J., and Collin Finnerty, of Garden City, N.Y. — have been released on $400,000 bond and are scheduled to next appear in court on May 15.

The same day the report was released and the day before Durham County elections, a defense attorney accused Nifong of using the case to help his election prospects and asked for his removal from the case.

"District Attorney Mike Nifong neglected his duties as a prosecutor to seek the truth and a fair prosecution," wrote attorney Kirk Osborn, who represents indicted player Reade Seligmann. "He created an actual conflict between his professional duty to search for the truth and his personal, vested interest in getting elected."

The motion seeking Nifong's removal was among several Osborn filed Monday. He also asked the court to throw out the photo identifications made by the accuser — a 27-year-old student at a nearby university hired to strip at a March 13 team party — calling the police photo lineup "unnecessarily suggestive and conducive to irreparable mistake and misidentification."

Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in the Democratic district attorney primary. Three candidates are Nifong, Keith Bishop and Freda Black — all Democrats. Black, a former prosecutor who was replaced by Nifong, has criticized Nifong's handling of the Duke rape investigation, CBS News correspondent Trish Regan reports.


Speaking in Durham on Monday, Black said her candidacy has been the target of a smear campaign, but that she's in the race to stay.

"Since I left the district attorney's office last April, I have been subjected to smear tactics, some call it mud-slinging," Black said. "Others that are close to me have also been the victims of smears."

Nifong has previously denied that political motives led to his aggressive investigation of the rape allegations. A nearly three-decade veteran of the prosecutor's office, he was appointed district attorney last year and is seeking election for the first time in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

The winner probably will be the next district attorney, since no Republicans are running. If no candidate wins at least 40 percent of the vote, the top two will advance to a May 30 runoff.

Meanwhile, the Duke women's lacrosse team is having a good year — on the field. But as CBS News correspondent Joie Chen reports, the scandal that rocked the men's team didn't just take fellow athletes off the field. Many of the men's players are family.

"One of our players, her brother's on the team. A freshman on the men's team … his older sister graduated from our program last year," women's lacrosse head coach Kerstin Kimel said. "We have a couple of kids who have known kids on that program for their entire lives."

This leaves the

. Duke defender Aiyana Newton plays a tough line amid allegations of racism and privilege.

"Whose side do I take? Neither: I support the legal system, I support Duke lacrosse, I support Duke as an institution," Newton told Chen. "There are people coming up to me saying 'How can you wear your Duke lacrosse stuff as an African-American woman?' and I'm like, 'of course I'm gonna wear this. This is my life, this is what I take pride in.'"

Also Monday, members of the New Black Panther Party gathered at an entrance to Duke University to show support for a woman who told police she was raped by three members of the school's lacrosse team.

Late last week, the Atlanta-based group distributed recruitment brochures at various Durham locations — including the courthouse — with information about today's rally.

CBS News affiliate WRAL in Raleigh, N.C., reports that the rally has drawn criticism from the family it is supposed to be aiding. The Monday morning event sponsored by the Panthers was supposed to display solidarity with the woman who says she was sexually assaulted.

But the women's mother says the family doesn't want the party to use the incident as a recruiting drive to seek new members. The accuser's mother says her family didn't ask the Panthers to come to Durham and doesn't want their help.

In recent days, the defense has also regularly attacked the accuser's credibility. Osborn's motions referenced a 1996 rape allegation made by the accuser, which did not lead to any charges, and a report she made in 1998, in which she accused her then-husband of threatening to kill her. Osborn's motion said she later failed to appear at a court hearing on the complaint, which was dismissed.

Osborn also filed motions seeking to reduce Seligmann's bond, now set at $400,000, to no more than $40,000; to obtain access to the accuser's cell phone records; and to order the state to save all DNA samples.