Forum Spin Doctor
'They Want to Break Her,' Accuser's Cousin Tells ABC News
By CHRIS FRANCESCANI and AMY CHOLAWA
Oct. 15, 2006 — - A relative of the woman who accused three Duke University lacrosse players of brutally raping her last fall told ABC News exclusively Sunday night that she believes the defense team and their clients are trying to "break'' her cousin and force her to drop out of the case.
"I think a lot of this is intimidation,'' the accuser's cousin Jakki, who would not allow her last name to be used, said on Sunday night. "I think they want to her to break, to say, 'Enough is enough.'"
Jakki spoke to ABC News after watching a segment on CBS's "60 Minutes," in which the three men charged with rape in the case, Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, said they are being framed for a crime they did not commit. Also on the program, the accuser is seen dancing on a pole in a strip club two weeks after the alleged attack, according to video aired for the first time Sunday night.
The second dancer at the party that night, Kim Roberts, told the news program she never saw any indications that the accuser had been assaulted. Roberts, who drove the accuser from the party, has previously called the rape charge a "crock.'' Roberts also denied a claim made by the accuser to police that the pair of dancers were "pulled apart'' right before the alleged attack.
'She Has to Survive'
Asked why a woman who said she was brutally raped and beaten by three men just two weeks before would return to nude dancing, Jakki said her cousin "has to survive.''
"She's a mother too, and she's a student, and … she has to make a living. She has to survive and that's unfortunate.''
"I think people forget that she's a human being," Jakki said. "It's really hard because she is my family, and she's a person. These boys said that 'this has destroyed my life.' That hasn't even touched on what has been done to my cousin's life.''
Jakki said that her cousin has been forced into hiding because of the notoriety of the case. "She can't go out and get milk like a normal person," she said.
She said the accuser has lost significant weight and is suffering emotional problems as a result of the attention the case has garnered.
The last time she spoke to her cousin, Jakki said, "her state of mind wasn't that good."
Jakki said that Roberts "has shown time and time again that she wants to make money'' from her involvement in the case. "She sees this as a golden opportunity. Nothing she says surprises me anymore."
After initially telling police she thought the rape allegations were a "crock,'' Roberts appeared to change her opinion, insisting later in an interview with National Public Radio she believes that "something happened'' that night. She has maintained throughout that she never saw any assault take place.
The grainy, amateur video shows an African American woman with braided hair gyrating on a gold pole in a half-empty, unidentified club. "60 Minutes," which obtained the video, said it shows the accuser in the Duke rape case and that it was shot two weeks after the alleged attack.
Accused Player: 'It's Changed My Whole Life
The three defendants said they were surprised and dismayed that authorities continued to pursue a case against them after DNA failed to positively link them to an attack.
When the 46 white members of the Duke lacrosse team were asked by authorities to submit DNA samples, "we were happy to go,'' Finnerty said.
Evans said he and other cooperated with police from the start. "It was scary," he said. "I woke up from a nap to 10 police officers in my living room with a search warrant. I went through every part of it -- told 'em where they could find things and that we'd fully cooperate and answer any questions they had." "I never expected anyone to get indicted, let alone myself," Finnerty said. "It's changed my life, no matter what happens from here on out. It's probably going to be something that defines me my whole life."
Evans said the accuser "has destroyed everything I worked for in my life" and "split apart a community and a nation on facts that just didn't happen and a lie that should never have been told."