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Attorneys say Duke team members innocent

The investigation into the alleged rape of an exotic dancer by three Duke lacrosse players is expanding. Dan Abrams talks with a local reporter and attorneys for the team's co-captains.

It appears the investigation into an alleged gang rape at the home of Duke lacrosse players has expanded.  We're now hearing police have searched a dorm room.  The story began on March 13, at a party at a house rented by three captains of the lacrosse team.  Two dancers were hired to perform at the party.  They said they believed just a handful of men would be there for a bachelor party.

According to a police affidavit, one of the women says she was raped and beaten for about half an hour by three men in a bathroom.  Forty-six of the 47 members of the team have given police DNA samples, one player exempt because he's African American and the woman says the three men who attacked her were white.

Dan Abrams interviewed Brianne Dopart, a local reporter, in addition to Kerry Sutton, attorney for team co-captain Matt Zash and James “Butch” Williams, attorney for co-captain Daniel Flannery.

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, "ABRAMS REPORT": Do you know anything about this search of a dorm room on campus?

BRIANNE DOPART, “THE HERALD SUN” REPORTER:  Police have not yet returned the search warrants last time I checked in, but they were telling us that they were going to do a search of the dorm room and that that search warrant should have been back either yesterday or today.

ABRAMS:  Do you have sense of why they would be in a dorm room?  I mean is there one person that they're focusing on in particular? 

DOPART:  Not that the police have let anyone know yet.  We've heard that there are three men that the police are looking at, but we're not sure at this point whether the evidence was in the house at the time that the police searched the house on Buchanan.  They've now start to search houses that are rented by other players and that may be why they're looking in those dorm rooms.

ABRAMS:  When you say that there are three men that they're looking at, we know that the alleged victim here has said that there were three men involved.  Have the police identified three men in particular that they believe are the three men who allegedly committed this assault? 

DOPART:  They have not named anybody, but on the original search warrant I believe they named a boy named Adam, a boy named Bret, and a boy named Matt.  However, we've also heard since then that the males that were allegedly involved in the rape may have used fake names, may have told her another name than their actual names. 

ABRAMS:  Because she was under the impression, was she not, that this was supposed to be something for baseball players and some members of the track team? 

DOPART:  We've heard that she believed that she was dancing at a party for about five people.  I'm not sure what team she believed that she was performing for, but she was not expecting allegedly 40-some people to be there at that house that night.

ABRAMS:  Finally, do you have any sense of when the DNA results are going to be back?  We're hearing next week.  Does that mean early next week, late next week?  Do you have any idea? 

DOPART:  We're hoping early next week, but we've also heard that the results were not actually received at the FBI lab until Monday.

ABRAMS:  There has been a lot of talk about the allegations.  There's been a lot of frustration and anger at Duke University.  We have not heard a whole lot from the other side.  And again, no one has been charged in this case yet, but the D.A. did tell us that he is convinced that a rape was committed. 

All right, Mr. Williams, let me start with you.  The first question that I think is the most obvious one is was your client at this party that has become the subject of all this controversy? 

JAMES “BUTCH” WILLIAMS, ATTY FOR DUKE LACROSSE CAPT. DANIEL FLANNERY:  Well, everyone that they took DNA from presumably was in fact at the party.  There's been no denying that they were present at the party. 

ABRAMS:  Ms. Sutton, would you agree with that, that your client, as well, was at this party?

KERRY SUTTON, ATTY FOR DUKE LACROSSE CAPT. MATT ZASH:  My client was at the party and he is one of the residents of that house.

ABRAMS:  There's been a lot of talk about not cooperating.  Mr. Sutton, has your client, in addition to giving DNA, which was actually court ordered, has your client agreed to answer questions from the police? 

SUTTON:  My client has given a written statement, an oral statement.  He volunteered to take a polygraph, but the police said no, thanks.  That's too much trouble.  He has been entirely cooperative, followed every piece of advice he's been given, and I can't see where it's coming from in relation to my client that he's not being cooperative. 

ABRAMS:  Mr. Williams, what about your client? 

WILLIAMS:  Let me just say this.  For the record and that's part of the reason why we're standing here.  It's not normal, not for me, to give interviews prior to either charges or the case being adjudicated, but we just feel compelled at this particular time to set some of the record straight in this matter.  First off, Ms. Sutton's client, my client, and another young man went forward voluntarily and gave complete statements to the police, as well as voluntarily, without the advice of counsel at that point, voluntarily came forward and succumbed to DNA testing.  So when someone tells you that they did not cooperate, that's just absolutely false. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Now, let me understand the position of your clients, because there was a statement that was released, jointly, from the co-captains of the team who are saying that the DNA will prove that they did not commit any sort of crime here.  Does that mean, Mr. Williams, that no one in that house had sex with the woman who is making these accusations? 

WILLIAMS:  That's absolutely correct.  And they have said, from day one, that no one in the house had sex with that particular young lady and that they all categorically deny to the that any sexual activity occurred other than her dancing. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  So Ms. Sutton, so there's not going to be a claim that there may have been consensual sex, et cetera, and so if they found DNA that they would be able to say later, well you know yes, we had sex, but she had agreed to it.  The claim of your clients and Mr. Williams' client is that they and no one else in that house, as far as they know, had sex with the woman involved?

SUTTON:  My client certainly denies that he had sex of any kind with this alleged victim, and to his knowledge, nobody at all at the house had sex with any of the women who were there.

ABRAMS:  And Ms. Sutton, was your client one of the people who was renting the house?

SUTTON:  Yes, he was. 

ABRAMS:  And Mr. Williams, your client as well? 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  The same.  He was a resident of the house.

ABRAMS:  So presumably if something had happened in the house, one of your clients would have known about it, correct?

WILLIAMS:  Absolutely. 

SUTTON:  You would think so. 

ABRAMS:  And so what is their reaction to everything that is going on here?  I mean they are eagerly awaiting the DNA results? 

WILLIAMS:  That's the first step.  But they're early awaiting exoneration and clearing of their good name, is what they're eagerly awaiting.  It's been a traumatic experience not just for them, but for the university, for the city of Durham, as well as for the parents of these young men.  So you know if anyone thinks anyone is taking this lightly, much to the contrary. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Mr. Williams, you've made some comments about a 911 call that was presumably made an hour before this incident.  This is the 911 call:

911 DISPATCHER:   Durham 911.  Where is your emergency?

CALLER:  I don't know if this is an emergency, but I'm in Durham and I was driving down near Duke's campus and it's me and my black girlfriend and the guy, there's like a white guy by the Duke wall and he just hollered out (BEEP) to me and I'm just so angry.  I saw them all come out like a big frat house and me and my black girlfriend are walking by and they called us (BEEP).  I'm not going to press the issue I guess, but I live in a neighborhood where they wrote KKK on the side of a white station wagon and that's near right where I'm at.  They didn't harm me in any way, but I just feel so completely offended.

ABRAMS:  Mr. Williams, as you know, a neighbor had also claimed that he heard one of the young men in the house yelling at the women who were African American, thank your grandfather for my cotton shirt.

WILLIAMS:  Well, I hadn't seen that.  There's a lot of scuttlebut going around about this and about that.  You listen to the tape and listen to the discrepancies in the tape, first I was driving by, then I was walking by, and if you go ahead to the second tape that gave the address. 

There's no numbers on that particular house.  So anyone looking at that house at night could not be able to identify numerically what number is on that house, unless they've been there.  Is this a product of a setup?  Those are things that we're going to be able to determine and ferret out in the shortcoming or in the shortcoming time that the investigators, private investigators are investigating this particular matter.

ABRAMS:  So Mr. Williams, let me just understand what you're saying.  You're saying that you think it's possible that the woman who made that 911 call made it an hour before the incident as part of a plan to later make accusations against these young men?  So they get someone to call 911, say that there were racially charge statements made, then the women go into the house, they come out, they make the allegations.  You're saying this may have all been part of a concerted plot? 

WILLIAMS:  Certainly seems kind of pat to me. 

ABRAMS:  What do you mean by that?

WILLIAMS:  That it's all contrived. 

Where is the young lady?  Why hasn't the person who made that call come forward?  I mean it's been in all of the news outlets, the news media has printed it.  Why haven't they come forward to say yes, I made that 911 call that night.  And why was a certain emphasis on me and my black friend.  I mean people don't call and make phone calls like that.  We're going to get to the bottom of what the motives are in this particular matter.

ABRAMS:  So it sounds like you're saying you think it might have been one of the women involved here making the call? 

WILLIAMS:  Oh, OK.  Now you're starting to see where I'm going.

ABRAMS:  All right.  There are various attorneys who are representing players on the team.  Can you give me a sense, do you know, Ms. Sutton, how many attorneys are representing the various players on the team?

SUTTON:  Right now, as far as we know, besides Mr. Williams there's Joe Chesser is representing one out of Raleigh.  Wade Smith I understand is going to represent another player.  He is out of Raleigh.  Bob Ekstrand, of course, here in Durham, at this time is representing many of the team members and there's, I believe, one other attorney that we're aware of, who's representing one other player.  But they may have made contacts that we're not aware of. 

ABRAMS:  Ms. Sutton, is your client still going to classes, et cetera? 

SUTTON:  He is.  He was at class this morning. 

ABRAMS:  And Mr. Williams, yours as well, because there was talk of, you know look, when you've got all their pictures up around campus, people saying come forward, come forward, there was talk of possible harassment. 

WILLIAMS:  As tenuous and as hostile as you may think it is, there are a lot of people that have total support of these young men, as well as they are still trying to graduate and have classes that they must attend. 

ABRAMS:  Ms. Sutton, I've heard Mr. Williams talk about some of the theories about what may have happened.  Can you tell us at least from your client's perspective, what happened at that party? 

SUTTON:  My client knows what happened inside his room, because that's where he was most of the evening.  Other than that, would be sheer speculation, and unlike some other folks, I'm not willing to engage in speculation. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, Mr. Williams, what about your client?  Can you tell us what his take is on what happened at that party? 

WILLIAMS:  He's told me he's totally shocked and appalled that these allegations have even been lodged, because in his heart of hearts and in his mind he knows that the allegations are false. 

ABRAMS:  What about the allegation that she left the house, that they then came back into the house, were convinced to come back, et cetera? 

WILLIAMS:  OK.  That I'm not going to comment on, because that didn't have anything to do with the second part of what may have occurred in the alleged attack.