Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead said Wednesday that he has suspended the rest of the season for the men’s nationally ranked lacrosse team following charges from a Black exotic dancer that several White members of the squad gang-raped her while calling her racial slurs.
The alleged victim, a student at nearby historically Black North Carolina Central University, told police that she had been hired to perform at a private party on March 13. She said that showed up at a wood-frame house on a quiet tree-lined street when she was pulled into a bathroom by three members of the team, who choked her and raped her, The Baltimore Sun reported.
All but one – an African American – of the 47 members of the team were asked to submit to DNA tests. The alleged victim, whose name is being withheld because she is charging that she was sexually assaulted – said that the assailants were all White.
"Sports have their time and place, but when an issue of this gravity is in question, it is not the time to be playing games," Brodhead said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
The team’s three captains, who have refused to comment on the matter, met with Brodhead Tuesday and issued a statement on behalf of the team shortly afterward stating “unequivocally that any allegation that a sexual assault or rape occurred is totally and transparently false."
They also agreed it would be "in the best interest of the university, the community and our families" to forego any more intercollegiate games until DNA results exonerated team members, according to Brodhead.
No charges have been filed.
Protestors converge on campus
In the days since the alleged attack, protestors have converged on the campus, one of America’s elite institutions, known both for its academics and its sports. Some have banged on pots and pans demanding justice for the woman, blasted a university culture they say treats precious athletes as if they are above the law, and called for mandatory coursework that emphasizes sensitivity to issues affecting women and people of color.
"White male privilege is an issue here," Teshonne Powell, a sophomore from Atlanta who attended a recent demonstration, told the Sun. "The fact that the lacrosse players are being protected is a serious problem. It says Duke cares more about its image than the safety of human beings."
Powell said Duke only forfeited the games "out of fear that protesters would disrupt them. If the Duke administration really cared about the investigation the rest of the season would be forfeited so the whole team could sit down and reflect on the actions of their team members.”