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Rape, racism troubles North Carolina schools

By Adam Eaglin U-WIRE

DURHAM, N.C. – Amid mounting concerns about students’ safety off-campus, Durham, N.C., District Attorney Mike Nifong told reporters last week that he does not intend to publicly release the DNA evidence from a rape that allegedly occurred March 13 at a Duke University men’s lacrosse party.

The results of a DNA test that will compare samples from 46 members of the lacrosse team with evidence taken from the alleged victim and the scene of the crime at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., are expected to come back this week.

Nifong has said, however, that regardless of the test’s findings he will not file charges until the week of April 10.

The growing controversy surrounding the alleged rape – coupled with accusations of racially charged language at the party – has increased strains on town-gown relations, culminating in threats and an act of violence Friday toward students.

In response to safety concerns, Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said the Duke University Police Department is increasing security measures in the areas surrounding East Campus.

“We’re taking this very seriously, and we know that the lacrosse incident aside, we’re almost now addressing more long-term issues – issues of race, issues of gender relationships, and these are not issues that are going to get solved with one or two immediate interventions,” Moneta said.

Friday evening, Durham Police Department officers notified the residents of houses along N. Buchanan Boulevard that there were unsubstantiated threats of gang-related violence targeted at Duke students.

The warning was only one of several recent accounts of threats of violence against students and faculty, including reports of harassment directed at men’s lacrosse coach Mike Pressler and members of the men’s lacrosse team.

Senior Morgan Gieseke said she and senior Basil Camu were surrounded and verbally harassed at Cook Out restaurant Friday morning around 3 a.m.

The altercation resulted in a physical assault on Camu, who was briefly knocked unconscious, Gieseke said.

She said that after purchasing their food, she and Camu were forced to wait in the drive-thru because the car in front of them had blocked them.

While waiting, a group of men approached their car.

“All of a sudden we heard all this screaming,” Gieseke said. “The people were saying, ‘This is Central territory.'”

Central refers to North Carolina Central University, where the alleged rape victim is a student.

Gieseke said the men made comments like “Duke kids aren’t welcome here because they’re all rapists” and “We don’t want Duke kids here at Cook Out because they’re going to rape our women.”

When Camu put his head out of the window to hear what the men were saying, Gieseke said an individual approached Camu from behind and punched him in the back of the head. After Camu recovered from the attack, the two students managed to leave the parking lot, but they were briefly pursued by the car that had previously blocked them in.

Lt. Sara-Jane Raines, administrative services executive officer for DUPD, confirmed the student’s report.

Raines said the students called DPD shortly after leaving Cook Out.

“We’re assisting in any way we can to identify the perpetrators,” she said.

Raines noted that no arrests had been made as of Sunday night.

Police also have yet to find suspects in relation to Friday’s threats of violence against houses on N. Buchanan Boulevard. DPD desk officer D. Myatt told The Chronicle Friday that the rumors of violence originated from the magistrate’s office, but he added that they could not be traced to a credible source.

Multiple students also confirmed that at around 5:30 p.m. a car drove by 710 N. Buchanan Blvd., and a passenger pointed his fingers – in the shape of a gun – at residents who had gathered on the porch.

“We had been sitting on our porch hanging out, and at least three cars went by flicking us off, saying, ‘You’ll see,'” senior Bryan Cappelli said.

Moneta said administrators, Duke police and residents along N. Buchanan Boulevard met multiple times over the weekend to address students’ safety concerns and to formulate a plan to ensure security in the coming weeks.

The current security plan, he said, will primarily involve an increase in the frequency and coverage of Duke police patrols.

The plan, Moneta added, will stay in effect “indefinitely.”

Although some residents have vacated their homes in response to the threats, those residents who remained Sunday said they were not worried about their safety.

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