THE BLOG
04/28/2006 01:04 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Duke Rape Scandal - Was The Accuser Raped Before? Does It Matter?

Duke Rape Scandal - Was The Accuser Raped Before? Does It Matter?

The latest development in the Duke rape scandal is the accuser alleged she was raped by three men ten years ago.

"The woman who says she was raped by three members of Duke's lacrosse team also told police 10 years ago she was raped by three men, filing a 1996 complaint claiming she had been assaulted three years earlier when she was 14. A phone number for the accuser has been disconnected and her family declined to comment to The Associated Press. But relatives told Essence magazine in an online story this week that the woman declined to pursue the case out of fear for her safety."

This week Duke lacrosse player Reade Seligman's attorney filed a motion this week seeking the accuser's mental health records alleging that, "the complaining witness has suffered from mental and emotional problems for a portion of her life."

Critics of his tactics, accuse the defense of trying to smear the victim. But Seligman's lawyer thinks the accuser "may have been committed, at least once, to a hospital or drug treatment program." The information sought, the defense alleges, provides "rich sources of information for impeaching the complaining witness."

In response to Reade Seligman's attorney's request for the dancer's medical records, her Mom states that the accuser was hospitalized for a week last year where she was treated for a "nervous breakdown". She also states she not aware of her daughter using drugs except for prescription medication in response to the prior rape. Her Dad also defends his daughter:

""She's not crazy," said her father, responding to what he says has become a smear campaign to damage his daughter's credibility. "She takes her children to school and picks them up. She works. She goes to school herself." Her mother and father also maintain that her medical history has no bearing on the pending case."

The Dad delivered another bombshell, that the accuser says she was raped with a broomstick by the Lacrosse players.

Today District Attorney Mike Difong responded to the news that the accuser complained of being raped in 1993. North Carolina's rape shield law might prevent the jury from ever hearing about it:

"District Attorney Mike Nifong said North Carolina's rape shield law lists "narrowly defined categories" under which evidence of an accuser's past sexual history is allowed as evidence. The court must hold a hearing to determine if the evidence meets those categories and to decide how it can be presented.

"In short, the jury that decides this case may or may not hear the 'evidence,'" Nifong said.

"The media are not bound by the same rules that govern our courts," he said. "Their decisions on what to report and how they report it (can) have a substantial impact on the ability of our system to effectuate justice. That impact is often positive. Unfortunately, it can also be negative.""

Was The Accuser Raped Before? Does It Matter?

The fact that she was raped before doesn't mean that she was not raped in this case but it does seem to make District Attorney Mike Nifong's case that much tougher. Will a jury believe that lighting can strike the same women twice? Will the rape shield law bar the jury from even hearing about it?