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Rush to judgment in Duke rape case?

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Attorneys for members of the Duke University lacrosse team are now speaking out.  They publicly and vehemently defended their clients this week against stunning allegations that some members of the team gang raped a woman at an off-campus party.  The alleged incident has sparked outrage.

A poster of all the lacrosse team players is plastered across the campus, as some angry students are demanding that the players come forward.  Meantime, the investigation has reportedly moved beyond the alleged crime scene now to a dorm room on campus, which is being searched.

RITA COSBY, HOST, "LIVE AND DIRECT": The man who lives next door to the house where the rape allegedly happened, Jason Bissey, told us in his own words exactly what he saw and heard from his own front porch that night.

JASON BISSEY, LIVES NEXT DOOR TO ALLEGED CRIME SCENE:  I noticed a car drive up and two young women get out, met with the gentleman and then walked back to the back of the house.  Two young women, one of them dressed in a short skirt and high heels, and the other woman was dressed a little more conservatively spoke with the gentleman outside of this door here briefly, and then at this point, all of the young men were inside.  They spoke amongst themselves for about five minutes or so and then entered the house.

And at that point, I went inside to take a shower.  And when I came out, this entire alley was full of men kind of yelling, and I overheard a lot of talk about getting money back and the money they'd spent or whatever.  And the young women were back in the car in front, and one of the young men was leaning into the driver's side door, speaking with her.  But at that point, the situation seemed to calm down a little bit, and they were able, I guess, to convince one of the girls to go back inside.

And that's at the point where I overheard her talking about going back and getting her shoe.  So the young ladies went back into the house, and at that point, nobody was out in the alley.  The situation seemed pretty calm.  And I was back in the house, just kind of hanging out, checking my e-mail and stuff, and I overheard the situation starting to boil up again outside.

And at that point, the young women were coming back out of the house, getting into the car and driving away.  And there were a lot of young men running this way, towards Duke's east campus.  And that's the point, when the girls were driving off, that I overheard the racial slur.  One of the young men yelled, Hey, "expletive," thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt.

And within two minutes, everything was totally dispersed, everybody was gone, and the police showed up shortly thereafter.

COSBY:  Attorneys representing some of the lacrosse team players are adamant that their guys did nothing wrong.

CHESHIRE:  This rush to judgment, which has created a lynch mob mentality, which has hurt the university, Duke University, unfairly, which has hurt the community of Durham unfairly, is just unfortunate, at best, and un-American, if I might say so.

MIKE NIFONG, DURHAM COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  This is the type of case that, because on top of the rape, which is already an abhorrent crime enough, you have the additional racial animus and hostility that just seems totally out of place for this community in this day and age.

COSBY: Bruce, let's first start with the player's attorney saying, Is this a rush to judgment?

BRUCE BARON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Oh, this is beyond a rush to judgment. 

This is something out of the KGB.  It's ridiculous.  Look at this guy.  He's going there and he's taking 46 DNA samples.  None of these individuals have been charged.  Whatever happened to the Constitution?  It's ridiculous!

COSBY:  We just heard today he was sort of backpedaling, saying, Well, maybe it wasn't even the lacrosse team, after all.  Did he sort of jump the gun here?

LISA PINTO, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Wait a minute, Rita!  Did we just hear that same independent eyewitness say that two young black women were called racial epithets?  There was a reference to cotton picking, days of slavery, exactly as these women had said to the police.

BARON:  Right, Lisa.  So you know what this district attorney should do?

PINTO:  We have words.  We've got a rape kit here! We got injuries! We've got a nurse!

BARON:  This DA should go door to door, take urine samples and give out a leaflet that he's running for office next month. This is ridiculous!

COSBY:  What about the phrasing?  He's using the word rape, I'm confident a rape took place.  Should he be saying, Maybe a rape may have occurred, maybe being careful with some of the words?

PINTO:  Rita, when a young woman is locked in a bathroom with three men and is strangled near to death and fights for her life such that five of her artificial fingernails are found on the floor

BARON:  Lisa, you remember Kobe?

COSBY:  Lisa makes a great point. The five fingernails. The other thing, too, that we heard, that they also did a rape exam.

PINTO:  Medical records don't lie!

COSBY:  Lisa, let me get you in because what about the DNA?  Because, of course, I think a lot of this is going to rest on DNA.  These guys are locked in, saying no sex, as far as they know, unless they say that the music was so loud, they couldn't hear something in the other room.  Don't you think the DNA is going to be conclusive one way or the other?

PINTO:  Rita, what if they used condoms?  We have bruising and injuries.

COSBY:  But the girl didn't say she used condoms.

COSBY:  Lisa, the girl did not say that.  Don't you think she would have said that?

PINTO:  Rita, she was fighting so hard for oxygen, I don't think she knew what happened, except that she was being held down and fighting for her life.  But Rita, how do you know, if 43 people don't have, if they have sex but they don't ejaculate, does that mean they didn't penetrate her?

BARON:  Oh, please!

PINTO:  In North Carolina, to commit the B felony, all you have to do is penetrate the vulva.

COSBY:  Let me play devil's advocate, Bruce, because, look, this DA seems pretty confident.  He's said that there is physical evidence.  There may be something a lot more than we know.  Bruce, also, we heard from Michelle Hofland, our NBC Correspondent, that they've track down this other dancer. They did not know each other before this.  If this dancer corroborates, she doesn't really have anything to get out of this.  They're not good friends.

BARON:  Well, if the dancer corroborates, it certainly makes the case stronger.  But he's putting the cart before the horse.  He's got to investigate.  Look, let's go no further than that Kobe case.  You had all the examinations.  You had the vaginal bleeding.  You had the vaginal damage.  And at the end of the day, there was no case.  It was consensual.  You had DNA there also.  Kobe voluntarily volunteered his DNA.

COSBY:  That's going to have to be the last word.  Love to have you guys back on.  But remember, again, in this case, you guys, these guys have said no sex occurred.  There was no assault.  So let's see what happens.  It's going to be very interesting.  And everybody, we will continue to follow this case throughout, and we'll keep you posted on any new developments.

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.