Crystal Mangum maintains she was assaulted

October 23, 2008 3:52:47 PM PDT
The woman state prosecutors determined falsely accused three Duke lacrosse players of rape maintains in a memoir that she was attacked.

Read excerpts from "The Last Dance for Grace."

Crystal Mangum appeared Thursday in Durham to promote the book. It was her first public appearance since making the debunked allegations more than two years ago.

She claimed she was raped and beaten at a team party in March 2006 will finally break her silence. With the help of her agent and co-author, Mangum is releasing a memoir entitled "The Last Dance for Grace."

In the book, Mangum says, "I want to assert, without equivocation, that I was assaulted. Make of that what you will. You will decide what that means to you because the state of North Carolina saw fit not to look at all that happened the night I became infamous."

"If Crystal Mangum truly wants to heal, get on with her life and have others learn from her experiences, she would admit her lies and the damage they did," Joseph Cheshire said in an e-mail. "The fact that she will not do that makes all of her motives and self-possessed desire to explain herself another lie. This is about money and lies. Pure and simple."

Mangum declined to answer specific questions about the details of the case on Thursday, and the publisher of the book said repeatedly "the case is closed" and she accepts the conclusions of state prosecutors.

"At this point, it doesn't really matter," she said Thursday. "What matters is for people to know my account of what happened and for all of us to learn from it."

"The [book] is not a rehash of the Duke Lacrosse case," said Vincent Clark, Mangum's manager, in a written statement. "This project is not intended to advance a political agenda or to sensationalize the tragic events of March 13, 2006. We are only seeking closure and want everyone associated with this incident to move on with [their] lives." Mangum's manager said the book emphasizes Mangum's troubled past and personal choices that led her to the infamous March 13th party.

In a written statement, Clark said Mangum supports State Attorney General Roy Cooper's decision to dismiss assault charges against three indicted Duke Lacrosse players. During the investigation, Mangum identified Collin Finnerty, David Evans and Reade Seligmann in a photo lineup that was widely criticized for violating the Durham Police Department's policies.

The photo lineup and the case have sparked at least three lawsuits?all alleging former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong led an orchestrated attempt to prosecute three former players later declared innocent by the State Attorney General. Nifong was eventually disbarred and jailed for withholding DNA evidence in the case. Legal bills for the City of Durham, one of dozens of defendants named in the lawsuits, total more than one million dollars. So far, the formerly indicted players' have yet to file suit against Mangum. Depending on the contents of the memoir, that could change.

"Here's the truth --we all know what happened," Attorney Joseph Cheshire said in an interview shortly after the book was announced.

Attorneys for the players later exonerated in the case predict it'll be a hard sell, partly because there may be efforts to prevent Mangum from profiting from the book.

"If she tells the truth that's one thing. I would think that would advance her life. I think people would understand and forgive that. But, there will be no forgiveness if she continues to lie," Cheshire told Eyewitness News in August.

Mangum plans to donate some of the proceeds from the book to organizations that help battered women. While the book may hit store shelves in October, it may not be without some potential legal backlash.

"She will open up a can of worms for herself that she will wish that she'd never opened up," Cheshire said.


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