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The 21 most shocking quotes from ESPN's documentary on the Duke lacrosse scandal

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All You Need to Know About Duke

In 2006, a party held by the Duke lacrosse team ended in chaos when two exotic dancers were hired and one later accused three players of sexually assaulting her in a bathroom.

In a "30 for 30" documentary on the case, "Fantastic Lies," ESPN describes a city of Durham where crime, racial tension, and poverty among locals led to "resentments in the community, and distrust" towards the school. Don Yeager, an author, called Durham "ready-made for the kind of controversy that happened."

The three players accused were later exonerated when it was shown that the district attorney withheld evidence, phone and video records showed that the players could not have been in the same place long enough to commit a crime, and DNA evidence did not support the woman's claims. However, the media circus that caused the case to blow up nationally still impacts people today.

Below, we'll take a look at the most shocking quotes from this most-see documentary.

In the beginning, the players were given some terrible advice.

ESPN

Even Duke professors say leading administrators were kept in the dark.

ESPN

The kids seemed to think at the beginning that the entire thing was no big deal.

ESPN

But once the media caught on, the kids were in trouble. Even one of the attorneys who defended the players had no trouble believing in their guilt.

ESPN

Early on, everything made the players look guilty to those watching. When the players were told to cover their faces as they went to give DNA samples, one local reporter admits he saw the photo and thought "these guys are guilty."

ESPN

A former public editor for the New York Times explained why the Duke Lacrosse case was the perfect media storm.

ESPN

Almost everybody was against the players. One mother of a player said "[Coach] Mike Pressler is the only person who stood behind this team, and I will always be indebted to him for it."

ESPN

Pressler says he ignored advice to not support the players, something that led to him losing his job.

ESPN

There was feeling that the entire scandal became more about perception than getting to the truth.

ESPN

When a damning email sent from one of the players on the night of the party went public, one former player said in the film, "it basically solidified everyone in America's mind, we were guilty, something had happened."

ESPN

Noting that the basketball team makes the school a lot of money, one mother of a former lacrosse player said, "I think if this had happened to the basketball team, the season would not have been canceled."

ESPN

Jay Bilas, a lawyer and former Duke basketball player who was working as a basketball analyst at the time, looked into the investigation and wrote a letter to the editor calling for the resignation of the school president. "An editor told me 'well, we've had your letter.' I asked him, 'were you given instructions on how to handle it?' He told me 'yes.' They didn't run it."

ESPN

Maybe the most telling quote in the entire documentary comes when a reporter for a Durham newspaper is asked the simple question, "how did this happen?" His silence is deafening.


When lawyers for players met with prosecutor Mike Nifong to show that they had a case, he didn't want to hear it, literally.

ESPN

The attorneys for the players were dumbfounded.

ESPN

As one journalist explained, Nifong was running for district attorney and dropping the case would have hurt his election hopes.

ESPN

When new DNA evidence turned up that appeared to have been withheld, the attitude of the defense attorneys changed.

ESPN

The attorneys for the players were able to get a DNA expert witness for the prosecution to admit that evidence had been withheld that would have exonerated the players.

ESPN

Later, after Mike Nifong was removed from the case, new investigators reached a different conclusion and were even aghast that the alleged victim's claims were never scrutinized: "We did a completely thorough investigation. She essentially was given a free ride, from April, until the end of December, when the investigator talked to her and then she claimed she wasn't raped."


Newsweek's Susannah Meadows admits that their famous cover headline was a stretch: "The cover line, 'Sex, Lies & Duke.' The only accurate word there is Duke."

ESPN

The film ends with a quote from an anonymous player on the constant reminder of what happened ten years ago.

ESPN

Now check out what happened to the players drafted with Peyton Manning.

Getty Images

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? The players from Peyton Manning's legendary 1998 NFL draft


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