Notice Duke lacrosse for talent, not past players’ indictments

The Duke lacrosse team was accused of a heinous crime last March involving the alleged rape of a stripper at a party.Three players were indicted on charges of rape, sexual offense and kidnapping.

Because of this, the nation was thrown into an uproar, and the team canceled all of its games after March 21, 2006, last season.

Now, 10 months later, the team is preparing to take the field once again, and I am imploring all of you to drop everything that has happened and let the athletes play.

Forget about the rape charges dropped by the Durham County district attorney Dec. 22 and let the players have their season without scrutiny.

I am not saying to forget the past, you can learn a lot from the past – and I bet these young men will learn a lot – but let’s remember the good with the bad.

Few people remember that Duke played in the 2005 NCAA D-1 lacrosse national championship game, a game it lost to the then No. 1 Johns Hopkins Blue Jays.

But now, whenever people hear Duke and lacrosse in the same sentence, they think of rape.

The team has done a lot to fix its tattered image since March.

Two of the accused players, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, were kicked out of the university. The third player, David Evans, graduated the day before the three men were indicted.

Former coach Mike Pressler resigned, and John Danowski was hired to fill his void and hopefully bring the team out of the dark.

Danowski had been the head coach of the Hofstra Pride for 21 years and is one of just eight NCAA D-1 coaches to have more than 200 career wins.

With Danowski, whose son is a senior attacker for the Blue Devils, came a new code of conduct for the team.

All of the players on the team had to agree to the code, which includes a ban on hazing.

Now that the team and the university have done their best to turn around the programs tarnished image, it is our turn to give them a chance.

I don’t believe that players from the team raped the stripper, especially since the DNA evidence came up negative, and the stripper has changed her story several times since first making the accusations.

Because of that, it really troubles me that some people continue to stay on the stripper’s side. Would you trust someone who makes a claim and continues to change his or her mind or someone who has not changed his or her story or made a single complaint about his treatment?

I also believe the three accused players should be commended for the constraint they have shown during these trying times.

I know if I was facing grievous charges for something I knew I didn’t do, I would be complaining and trying to tell my story.

Even though the rape charges have been dropped, these three young men could still face at least 30 years in prison for the kidnapping and sexual offenses charges.

When the Duke lacrosse team takes the field for its first game of the 2007 season Feb. 24 against Dartmouth University, the nation’s spotlight will once again be on them. I just hope there will be more talk about the team’s No. 6 ranking in ESPN’s preseason poll and not about the horrible events of the past 10 months.

Photo editor Billy Wessels is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Waxahachie.