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Nation in brief: Lacrosse players sue over rape case

Sat., Oct. 6, 2007

Three former Duke lacrosse players falsely accused of rape filed a sweeping federal lawsuit Friday that could return the sensational case to a courtroom, suing disgraced prosecutor Mike Nifong, the city of Durham and the police detectives who handled the investigation.

The lawsuit calls the criminal case against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans “one of the most chilling episodes of premeditated police, prosecutorial and scientific misconduct in modern American history.”

It seeks unspecified damages and numerous reforms to the way the Durham Police Department handles criminal investigations.

The suit was filed about a month after city officials met with lawyers for the families seeking a $30 million settlement and several legal reforms, two people close to the case have said.

Apparently unable, or unwilling, to reach a deal with the families, the city pledged Friday to defend itself and its employees, but not Nifong.

Santa Ana, Calif.

Diocese settles abuse lawsuits

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange said Friday that it will pay nearly $7 million to settle four sexual abuse lawsuits, including one for which the bishop faces contempt of court proceedings for sending a monsignor out of the country before he could testify.

The four lawsuits, the first of which was to go to trial Oct. 15, involved allegations against three lay teachers at Mater Dei High School and Santa Margarita High School, as well as a lay musician at a neighborhood parish.

“I’m sorry that any of this happened and that even one person was abused,” said Bishop Tod D. Brown.

New Orleans

Gorbachev visits Lower 9th Ward

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev toured New Orleans on Friday as an emissary of the global environmental movement, but his first view of the devastated Lower 9th Ward inspired a momentary return to his socialist past.

“If things haven’t changed by our next visit, we may have to announce a revolution,” he said through a translator, as he walked the lifeless streets with well-wishers and staff members of Green Cross International, a nongovernmental organization that he chairs.

Gorbachev promised to return in five years to measure the city’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina, which has so far been tangled by bureaucratic delays.

“No matter the flooding and the hurricane, the red tape and bureaucracy survive,” he said.

Though Gorbachev mostly stuck to his environmental agenda throughout his visit, he ventured briefly into political talk. While at the foot of the Industrial Canal levee that breached during Katrina, he spoke with New Orleans City Councilman Arnie Fielkow about political attention given to the city two years after Katrina.

“The future of the city is still not decided,” Gorbachev observed.


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