Alleged rape victim `drunk'

Responding officer in Duke case described woman to dispatcher

April 14, 2006|By BILL ORDINE | BILL ORDINE,SUN REPORTER

A police officer described the woman who was allegedly raped by Duke University lacrosse players as "just passed-out drunk," according to a recording of a radio transmission obtained yesterday by the Associated Press.

The officer's observation occurred shortly after a grocery store security guard had called 911 to report a woman who would not get out of someone else's car in the parking lot.

The conversation between the officer and a dispatcher took place about 1:30 a.m., March 14. The 27-year-old woman, a stripper and student at nearby North Carolina Central University, said she was sexually assaulted and beaten about midnight at an off-campus lacrosse team party.

The officer called in the code for an intoxicated person and the dispatcher asked if medical assistance was required.

The officer responded: "She's breathing and appears to be fine. She's not in distress. She's just passed-out drunk."

The president of a national anti-sexual assault organization said it is difficult to draw conclusions from such an observation.

"Rape is trauma, and it's one of the most traumatic events someone can go through, so people react in very different ways, both physically and emotionally," said Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

"Does it typically look like drunkenness? Not most of the time. But reactions are so varied, I would be reluctant to say it was inconsistent with the rape she said happened."

"Ultimately, the issue is not whether she was drunk," he added. "But rather whether she was raped."

A report of a medical examination of the alleged victim did not mention she was drunk, according to the AP.

No charges have been filed, but Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong has said he believes a crime was committed and earlier this week he vowed to continue the investigation despite DNA test results that failed to link any of the lacrosse team members to the alleged assault.

In discussing the DNA results several days ago, defense attorneys urged Nifong to drop the investigation, but have also said that the district attorney could ask a grand jury to issue indictments as soon as Monday. Experts in forensic science have said the absence of DNA evidence may make prosecution more difficult, but not impossible.

The case has attracted national attention and stirred debate both at Duke and North Carolina Central because of issues raised concerning race and class. The woman, who said that she and another woman were hired to dance at the party, is black, and the three men who are accused are white.

bill.ordine@baltsun.com

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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