Woman That Accused Duke Lacrosse Players Of Rape Pens Memoir About Case

11/23/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

DURHAM, N.C. — The woman who prosecutors determined falsely accused three Duke lacrosse players of rape maintains in a new memoir that she was attacked, a claim that provoked an angry lawsuit threat from one player's family.

Crystal Mangum, who appeared publicly Thursday for the first time since making the allegations more than two years ago, says in her book being made available online Friday that she is not "looking forward to opening old wounds" but that she had to defend herself.

"Even as I try to move on with my life, I still find it necessary to take one more stand and fight," she writes in an excerpt of the book, "The Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum Story."

"I want to assert, without equivocation, that I was assaulted. Make of that what you will. You will decide what that means to you because the state of North Carolina saw fit not to look at all that happened the night I became infamous."

Mangum's remarks drew an immediate rebuke from attorneys, and the family of one exonerated player said they were considering a lawsuit. Jim Cooney, who represented player Reade Seligmann in the criminal case, said attorneys would review the contents of the book.

"For 2 1/2 years, this woman has attempted to destroy Reade's life," Cooney said. "We aim to put a stop to it."

Mangum told police that she was attacked at a March 2006 lacrosse team party where she was hired to perform as a stripper. After a disastrous local prosecution that eventually led to downfall of the district attorney, the state attorney general's office concluded there was no credible evidence an attack ever occurred.

The state's investigation found there was no DNA or medical evidence, or witness accounts, that confirmed Mangum's story. The inconsistencies in Mangum's account, the state found, "were so significant and so contrary to the evidence that the State had no credible evidence that an attack occurred in the house that night."

Mangum declined to answer questions about case details Thursday, including when asked directly whether Seligmann, Dave Evans and Collin Finnerty _ the three cleared players _ attacked her. Vincent Clark, co-author and publisher of the book, said repeatedly "the case is closed" and Mangum accepts the conclusions of state prosecutors.

"At this point, it doesn't really matter," she said. "What matters is for people to know my account of what happened and for all of us to learn from it."

Seligmann's father, Phil Seligmann, called Mangum's comments "simply a pathetic attempt to further her need to remain in the public eye at the expense of demonstrably innocent individuals."

"Her incoherent passages are not based on facts, but are quite simply false ramblings," Seligmann said in a statement. "She ignores all of the verifiable facts of the case.

"No crime of any kind took place involving Ms. Mangum or any member of the Duke men's lacrosse team. We are presently evaluating all available legal options. If Ms. Mangum and those associated with her continue to slander Reade, we will have no choice and will not hesitate to utilize these options."

An attorney who defended Evans in the criminal case also was quick to denounce Mangum's remarks, saying her allegation hurt the accused players, the state and all women who have been victims of sexual assault.

"If Crystal Mangum truly wants to heal, get on with her life and have others learn from her experiences, she would admit her lies and the damage they did," Joseph Cheshire said in an e-mail. "The fact that she will not do that makes all of her motives and self-possessed desire to explain herself another lie. This is about money and lies. Pure and simple."

Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans filed a federal civil rights lawsuit last year accusing Nifong, the city of Durham, police investigators and others of conducting "one of the most chilling episodes of premeditated police, prosecutorial and scientific misconduct in modern American history." But they have never named Mangum as a defendant in any legal action.

The Associated Press had not previously identified Mangum per its policy of not identifying people who say they are victims of sexual assault, even after public statements clearing the players. The AP decided to name Mangum once she came out publicly on her own.

Mangum's version of the alleged assault varied in the number of assailants, and whether she was ever assaulted at all. At one point, state prosecutors noted, she said that photos taken at the party that contradicted her story were altered.

The biggest change in her account came in December 2006, when Mangum told an investigator for former Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong that she could no longer be sure the attackers had raped her.

Nifong then dropped the rape charge against Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans, leaving kidnapping and sexual offense charges in place. The case continued to unravel, and state Attorney General Roy Cooper eventually declared the players innocent victims of a "tragic rush to accuse" in April 2007.

Nifong was later disbarred for more than two dozen violations of the bar's rules of professional conduct in his handling of the case. He ultimately spent one night in jail for lying to a judge.

Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, declined to comment on Mangum's remarks, as did Candy Clark, an administrative assistant in the Durham County district attorney's office, and Kevin Finnerty, Collin's father.

Seligmann and Finnerty have since transferred from Duke. Evans graduated the day before he was indicted in May 2006.