Posted April 7, 2006 -- The NAACP says the investigation of an alleged gang rape involving Duke University lacrosse players must be diligently and fairly investigated.
"We are in the midst of a community and legal crisis," said William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, in a news conference in front of the Durham County Judicial Building Thursday.
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The NAACP said it will play a watchdog role to ensure the case is handled fairly.
"As this process unfolds, it should be done in a transparent manner, so the whole community will feel confident that justice is being served without regard to racial, economic or social status," Barber said.
Three weeks ago, a 27-year-old Black student said she was raped by three White Duke lacrosse players at a team party for which she had been hired to dance. No suspects have been identified. Lawyers for all the team members said there was no rape or sex at the party, The Associated Press reported.
An e-mail message, according to a search warrant affidavit, was sent by a lacrosse player shortly after the party. In the message, he said he wanted to invite strippers to his dorm room, then kill them and skin them. Hours after a police document was unsealed showing the e-mail message, the student was suspended and the lacrosse coach resigned.
NAACP members said that email prompted them to get involved.
"The evidence was apparently in the hands of the criminal justice system for some time," added Barber.
Richard H. Brodhead, the university president, canceled the remainder of the season. Brodhead also created five groups to examine the team, Duke's response to the incident and other student misbehavior.