Duke underestimated the rape allegations against members of its men's lacrosse team in part because Durham police initially said the accuser "kept changing her story and was not credible," according to a university report issued Monday.
The day after the March 13 team party where a 27-year-old black woman claimed she was raped, Durham police told campus officers that "this will blow over," the report said. It said that the woman initially told police she was raped by 20 white men, then said she was attacked by three.
Police told the Duke officers that if any charges were filed, "they would be no more than misdemeanors," the report said.
Instead, more than a month after the party, a grand jury indicted two members of the highly ranked lacrosse team -- sophomores Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty -- on charges of first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree sexual assault. District Attorney Mike Nifong has said he hopes to charge a third person.
The report was commissioned by the Duke president and prepared by Julius Chambers, a former chancellor at North Carolina Central University, where the accuser is a student, and William G. Bowen, a former president of Princeton University who is now head of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Their report does not say who at the Durham Police Department cast doubt on the accuser's complaint. Defense attorneys have asked the court to consider her reliability, saying she previously made allegations of rape that did not lead to any charges.
After reviewing a copy of the report, Nifong declined to comment. Durham police spokeswoman Kammie Michael also declined to comment.