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All charges have been dropped in the sexual assault case against three former Duke University Lacrosse players, the North Carolina’s Attorney General announced Wednesday.

Attorney General Roy Cooper said there was insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges against any of the players.

“These cases are over,” Cooper said.

The cases were “a result of a tragic rush to accuse and failure to verify serious allegations,” he said.

Reade Seligmann, David Evans and Collin Finnerty were charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree sexual offense after an escort-service dancer accused them of raping her at a team party in March of last year.

Attorneys for the students have insisted from the start that their clients are not guilty.

The three former players and their families were expected to hold a news conference later Wednesday.

In January, Cooper’s office took over the case from Michael Nifong, the Durham County district attorney who had been handling it. Nifong faces multiple ethics complaints from the state bar over his handling of the case.

Wednesday, defense sources told CNN the defense plans to pursue civil suits against Nifong no matter what decision was announced.

The same sources said there were no plans to sue the accuser, who was described as “a troubled soul.”

The dismissal of the charges ends a yearlong battle fought in the North Carolina courts.

The allegations of rape, which sparked controversy in the Raleigh-Durham area and quickly moved into the national spotlight, were made last year when a woman hired to dance at a March 13, 2006, party accused the students of raping her.

The woman initially said the three raped her in a bathroom, but the rape charges were dropped in December after she told prosecutors she could no longer testify that she had been penetrated with a penis, one of the defining factors of rape under North Carolina law. In addition, two DNA tests have found no evidence linking any of the three men to their 28-year-old accuser.

The North Carolina state bar filed ethics complaints against Nifong in December and January, accusing him of withholding DNA evidence from the players’ defense attorneys and of “making misrepresentations to the presiding judge.”

Other ethics complaints said Nifong had made inappropriate comments to the media about evidence, testimony, and the students’ character and credibility.
Nifong will be tried by the bar in June and could be disbarred if he’s found guilty, AP reported.

The case prompted national outrage and discussion about racism and the rowdy behavior of privileged students at a prestigious university.

The accuser, a student at nearby North Carolina Central University, is black; the three accused men are white.

When the case began, Seligmann, of Essex Fells, New Jersey, and Finnerty, of Garden City, New York, were both sophomores. Evans, the team captain, who is from Bethesda, Maryland, graduated a day before turning himself in to face charges.

In January, Duke invited Seligmann and Finnerty to return for spring semester. They had been placed on administrative leave after the dancer made her accusations. Neither accepted the invitation, according to AP.

Evans became the first accused player to speak out, vehemently proclaiming his and his teammates’ innocence as he turned himself in on May 15.

“It did not happen,” he said. “I will be acquitted of all these charges because I have done nothing wrong, and I have told the truth. I have told the truth from day one.”

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Well Baby Boomers, I know you have just got to have something to say on this one…Justice or Injustice…was the blindfold on or off Lady Justice??? Are the scales tilted or not?

~The Baby Boomer Queen~

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