Earlier today North Carolina Attorney General Roy A. Cooper declared the three former Duke Lacrosse players innocent of all charges stemming from last year's rape accusation.
While the three players have now been exonerated by the law, and the accuser's photo is now splashed across the Drudge Report, there's still the former Duke coach, Mike Pressler, and his downfall. The coach never wavered in support of his players, and while his support turned out to be valid, it cost him his job, and more. Pressler states that Cooper's announcement only affirmed what he believed all along.
The attorney general, Roy A. Cooper, said the players — Reade W. Seligmann, David F. Evans, and Collin Finnerty — had been wrongly accused by an “unchecked” and “overreaching” district attorney who had ignored contradictory evidence and instead relied on the stripper’s “faulty and unreliable” accusations.
“We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations,” Mr. Cooper said at a news conference.
“We have no credible evidence that an attack occurred,” he added.
"It is the same truth today as it was a year ago," Pressler said at a late afternoon news conference at Bryant University, where he now coaches. "The injustice, the lies and the myths have been fully exposed."Pressler was fired from Duke last spring after leading the program for 16 years and building it into a lacrosse juggernaut. After falling from grace at Duke, he landed at Bryant University, a Division II program in Northern Rhode Island.
In a sign of gratitude, Evans paid tribute to Pressler, and the sacrifice he made on behalf of his players:
"Sixteen years he spent building up a team to fall on a sword so that we could continue as a team at the university he loved," Evans said. "We owe him everything."But like in most stories, there are two sides to every story. Pressler lost a lot. He lost the career that he had spent years building. Coaching at Bryant must be some sort of Lacrosse purgatory. It's like Jim Harrick coaching in the NBDL. His players lost a lot too. They're now household names for all the wrong reasons. Their lives have been changed - probably for the worse.
Yet despite being portrayed in a sympathetic light in the stories coming out, it can't be forgotten that everyone involved brought this incident on themselves. Even being innocent, the Duke Lacrosse team already had a terrible reputation, and their boorish behavior would have culminated in something like this one day. The three players also robbed their teammates of the rest of their season. Pressler, the loyal coach, stood by his players. But he also presided over this program that was wildly out of control. He could have cleaned ship and brought about discipline. But he chose to ride his success and ignore such behavioral problems.
I'm not dealing with the accuser here because enough will be said about her. But as with the others involved, the fact of the matter is each party could have acted differently, and each party was in some way wronged.
"A lot was taken from us," Pressler said, and he's right. Yet it was everyone involved could have helped prevent this calamity.