HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
January 8, 2007, Herald Journal

Ethics charges took too long

By ROZ KOHLS

It’s about time that North Carolina’s district attorney, Mike Nifong is in trouble.

The North Carolina Bar Association filed ethics charges Dec. 28 against Nifong in a Duke University rape case, according to the Washington Post. The association accused him of saying misleading and inflammatory things to the media about the lacrosse players under suspicion.

Nifong also allegedly told the head of a DNA laboratory not to disclose the results of lab tests that showed the accused lacrosse players didn’t rape the victim in the case. Nifong was obligated by law to turn over exculpatory evidence to the players’ defense, but he didn’t, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

In February, a 28-year-old woman was hired to perform as a stripper at a lacrosse team party, and said she was gang-raped. Nifong made 40 improper statements about the three accused players to newspaper and television reporters during March and April. For example, Nifong called the players “a bunch of hooligans.” He said, “I am convinced there was a rape, yes sir,” and told ESPN, “One would wonder why one needs an attorney if one was not charged, and had not done anything wrong.”

When DNA evidence failed to match the lacrosse players’ DNA, Nifong told a reporter that the players used condoms. Nifong already knew, though, about testimony from the emergency room nurse in which the woman said her attackers didn’t use condoms.

Keep in mind that Nifong had never even spoken to the woman until December.

The bar association took way too long to make these charges of ethical violations. Nifong and the NCBA left the lacrosse players and the Durham community twisting in the wind.

Nifong ran for re-election this November. He probably used this case to maximize free publicity for himself.

Also, the woman who accused the players of rape was black. Possibly, Nifong thought black voters would make him their “hero” for going up against rich, white kids on behalf of a black victim.

Nifong finally dropped the rape charges against the athletes, but not the charges for kidnapping and sexual offense.

Whatever the reason, voters should be wary of any politician who pits rich against poor, or black against white. It could be a set-up.