Police insist they did not mishandle Duke rape case

By Aaron Beard The Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. – The district attorney prosecuting three Duke lacrosse players charged with rape insists that he and police have not mishandled the case and said his only regret was granting so many interviews early on.

“Could I have done things differently? Of course I could’ve done things differently,” Mike Nifong told The Associated Press on Monday. “Can I do things differently in the future? Of course I can do things differently in the future. But at any time, I’ve got to do what I think is the right thing to do.”

Nifong, running for re-election against two challengers who have attacked his handling of the case, obtained an indictment against three men accused of raping a stripper at a team party in March. The three have declared their innocence.

“I think that I have a responsibility to prosecute this case,” Nifong said. “I think that really nothing about my view of the case and my view of how the case ultimately needs to be handled has been affected by any of the things that have occurred.”

The 56-year-old Nifong, who has worked for Durham County’s district attorney’s office since 1978, thrust himself into the story in the days after the accusations became public, granting numerous newspaper and TV interviews as he prepared to face two challengers in May’s Democratic primary – an election he won.

His tone was decidedly aggressive, as Nifong called the players “hooligans” used to having “expensive lawyers” get them out of trouble.