Nifong vows to continue pursuing rape investigation
DURHAM, N.C. -- The district attorney prosecuting two Duke University athletes on rape charges fought off two challengers in the Democratic primary Tuesday and vowed to continue pursuing the headline-grabbing case.
"The case continues to go forward," said Mike Nifong, who insisted the election had not become a referendum on his handling of the investigation into rape allegations involving the school's lacrosse team.
"There is no way to tell if it hurt or helped," Nifong said. "I really felt like I was by far the best candidate. ... I'm glad that the people of Durham agree with me."
In unofficial results, Nifong had 11,168 votes, or 45 percent. Challenger Freda Black was close behind with 10,269 votes, or about 42 percent. There are no Republicans running in the general election, and Nifong needed only 40 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
Some voters agreed with Nifong, saying it was unfair to judge the veteran prosecutor on just one case, even if it has drawn intense media scrutiny to Durham and Duke University, by far the largest employer in the county.
Nita Wiggins, a retired Durham city employee, said she voted for Nifong.
"I don't agree with some of the decisions he's made in the case, but I have to believe that he's doing what he feels is correct," Wiggins said. "I still wish he hadn't ... answered any questions [from the media] because it just kind of makes us look bad, and we're really not a racially divided town."
Other voters were critical of Nifong, who initially talked openly about the investigation and at one point labeled some players "hooligans" and boldly predicted DNA test results would identify the guilty athletes.
Defense attorneys said those tests failed to find a match between the accuser and any player tested.
"I don't think he did his job," said Antonia Weeks, a writer who has lived in Durham for 29 years. "I don't know who did what, and I'm not pretending to know, but I've seen a lot of cases handled in this community, and I've never seen one handled this way before."
Duke canceled the remainder of the season for the highly ranked team last month following allegations that a black woman was raped and beaten by three white men at a team party where she had been hired to dance.
A grand jury has indicted two players on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual assault. Nifong has said he hopes to charge a third person.
Nifong, who has been a prosecutor for nearly three decades, was appointed district attorney last year after his predecessor became a judge.
There is slight chance Nifong could face a challenger in November. Unaffiliated candidates have until June 30 to submit petitions signed by 4 percent of registered voters in Durham County, or about 6,300 people, to win a spot on the fall ballot. Write-in candidates must file petitions by Aug. 9.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
Lacrosse Scandal at Duke
• Disgraced prosecutor Nifong dropped from lawsuit
• Former prosecutor Nifong files for bankruptcy
• Three Duke lax players sue school, prosecutor
• Dept. of Justice won't investigate Nifong
• Ex-Duke lacrosse coach suing school
• Wrongly accused players sue city, ex-DA
• Duke president apologizes to accused lax players
• Ex-Duke DA Nifong serves sentence, leaves jail
• Exonerated Duke players seek $30M settlement
• Nifong reports for one-day jail sentence
• Nifong held in criminal contempt
• Nifong pleads not guilty to contempt charges
• Four lax players returning to Duke for 5th season
• Nifong apologizes for wrongdoing in Duke case
• State Bar formally orders disbarment for Nifong
• Lax player in Duke case transfers to Loyola, Md.
• Nifong a no-show at removal hearing
• Player's attorneys call for contempt on Nifong
• Nifong's predecessor named as interim replacement
• Governor set to replace Nifong as Durham D.A.
• Duke, former lacrosse players reach settlement
• Judge: Nifong must leave office immediately
• Disciplinary panel disbars Nifong
• Prosecutor Nifong says he'll resign
• Lax player's lawyer testifies about evidence
• Testimony: No conspiracy to hide evidence
• Duke prosecutor faces disbarment in trial
• NCAA grants Duke lax players extra season
• Cleared Duke player Seligmann to attend Brown
• Hopkins ends Duke's run, wins ninth lacrosse title
• Cleared Duke player Seligmann to attend Brown
• Police made mistakes in lineup
• Ex-Duke coach; University caved in to pressure
• AG's office releases report
• Cossack: Case crumbled early
• Nifong apologizes to players
• Ex-coach never lost faith
• What they're saying
• All charges dismissed
• Defense attorney in Duke lacrosse case dies
• Former prosecutor fighting charges
• Top N.C. prosecutor tours Duke lacrosse house
• Ex-DA defends self against charges
• Duke urges diversity following rape allegations
• Duke wins season opener
• Team greeted by near-record support
• Players ready to return to field
• Brown recruiting Duke player charged with assault
• Opponent wants D.A. removed from office
• Grand jurors speak out
• Hearing postponed until May
• Duke begins practice for 2007 season
• Nifong faces more ethics charges from state bar
• Nifong gets extension to answer complaint
• NAACP asks for thorough exam of case
• Prosecutor's future uncertain
• Attorney general takes over
• Prosecutor asks off case
• Defense: Accuser said one player just watched
• Judge orders paternity test
• Duke prez defends decision
• Ex-player sues over failing grade
• Lawyer: Players invited back to class
• N.C. State Bar files complaint against prosecutor
• D.A. drops rape charges
• Legal experts: Why the remaining charges?
• Judge OKs paternity tests
• Report: Accuser is pregnant
• Defense attorneys: No Duke players' DNA found on woman
• Justice Department asked to investigate Duke case