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Duke lacrosse coach resigns, rest of season canceled

4/6/2006

DURHAM, N.C. -- A lacrosse player's e-mail rant about
killing and skinning strippers in his Duke University dorm room has
led to his coach's resignation, the season's cancellation and an
internal probe into the school's response to alleged violence by
athletes.

Wednesday's cascade of events was the latest fallout from
allegations that three players on the lacrosse team sexually assaulted an
exotic dancer at an off-campus party on March 13.

No charges have been filed in the case, but sophomore Ryan
McFadyen, 19, of Mendham, N.J., the player who wrote the e-mail, has
been suspended, and Duke President Richard H. Brodhead promised a
"very, very serious self-study" of campus culture.

"I pledge that Duke will respond with appropriate seriousness
when the truth is established," he wrote in a letter to the
community.

Students and townspeople have marched almost daily since the
alleged attack on the dancer, a student across town at North
Carolina Central University. The woman, who is black, claims three
white men pulled her into a bathroom and assaulted her.

Protesters are angry over the school's handling of the
allegations. Investigators have said the athletes are sticking together and
keeping silent.

Authorities have taken DNA samples from the team's 46 white
players. The sole black player has been ruled out. District
Attorney Mike Nifong has said that he is "pretty confident that a
rape occurred," but that he does not expect to file charges until
next week.

The team's co-captains have acknowledged hiring the dancer and
serving alcohol but have denied that anyone was sexually assaulted
at the party.

On Wednesday, authorities unsealed documents stating that less
than two hours after the alleged rape, McFadyen sent an e-mail
saying he was planning an encore to "tonights [sic] show." The
message, addressed "To whom it may concern," said, "however
there will be no nudity."

"I plan on killing the bitches as soon as the[y] walk in and
proceding to cut their skin off," wrote McFadyen, a 6-foot-6,
225-pound Atlantic Coast Conference honor roll player who was one
of five Duke players from the exclusive Delbarton School in
Morristown, N.J., adding in vulgar terms that he would find the act
sexually satisfying. The e-mail was signed with McFadyen's jersey
number, 41.

McFadyen's name, however, does not match the three names the
woman gave to police as those of her attackers.

N.C. Central Chancellor James Ammons called the e-mail "very
disturbing" and cautioned students not "to seek retribution or
take matters into their own hands."

"I am encouraging our students to continue to show support for
the alleged victim and to continue to plan events that better
educate individuals about sexual violence and racism," Ammons said
in a statement.

The Rev. William Barber, who leads the state's NAACP chapter,
vowed to watch investigators closely and said their work must be
done openly, "so the whole community will feel confident that
justice is being served, without regard to racial, economic or
social status."

Brodhead said McFadyen was the only player suspended so far, and
that the man was removed from campus. He also said he has heard
that other lacrosse team members have changed their places of
residence for safety reasons.

"The court released today a previously sealed warrant whose
contents are sickening and repulsive," Brodhead said in announcing
the cancellation of the rest of the season. Last week, he suspended
the team from play.

Shortly after the e-mail's release, lacrosse coach Mike Pressler
resigned, ending a 16-year tenure marked by three Atlantic Coast
Conference championships and a trip to last year's national final.

Brodhead called Pressler's resignation "highly appropriate"
but declined to say whether it had been requested.

Brodhead said the investigation will include a probe of at the
lacrosse team's culture and the school's response to the scandal to
uncover any "special history of bad behavior with this team."

The investigation of Duke's response will be conducted by
William Bowen, president of the Andrew Mellon Foundation and a past
president of Princeton University, and Julius Chambers, former
director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
and a past NCCU chancellor.

The university's critics have complained that it has taken three
weeks to reach these actions. There have been near-daily protests
on and off campus.

Coincidentally, McFadyen attended a "Take Back the Night"
march on campus on March 29.

"I completely support this event and this entire week," the
player told The Chronicle, Duke's student newspaper. "It's just
sad that the allegations we are accused of happened to fall when
they did."

McFadyen's attorney, Glen Bachman, took over his representation
late Wednesday from attorney Robert Ekstrand, who said earlier in
the day that while its language was vile, "the e-mail itself is
perfectly consistent with the boys' unequivocal assertion that no
sexual assault took place that evening."

Bachman declined to comment on the e-mail and its contents.

In the warrant to search the player's room, police provided a
detailed timeline of the alleged attack. The warrant also adds
conspiracy to commit murder as a crime that police are
investigating.