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Charges dropped in Duke lacrosse case

April 11, 2007 at 5:02 PM

RALEIGH, N.C., April 11 (UPI) -- North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is dropping sexual assault and kidnapping charges against three former Duke University lacrosse players.

David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were accused of sexually assaulting an exotic dancer at an off-campus party in March 2006.

Cooper declared the men "innocent of these charges" Wednesday and accused Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong of "overreaching," the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

"This case shows the enormous consequences of over-reaching by a prosecutor," Cooper said at a news conference. "The Durham District Attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many moments in this case where caution would have served better than bravado."

Cooper said the charges were the result of "a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations."

The newspaper said Nifong will face disciplinary action from the State Bar on ethics charges. He could also face a lawsuit from the three accused players.

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