19 October 2006

60 Minutes: Duke rape case, part 2 of 6

(CBS) In an instant, the image of the players went from athletes to accused criminals, in the form of mug shots. The Duke lacrosse players had been big men on campus – top students and favorites to win a national title. But it all came crashing down after the players held their annual team party.

The party was at a house on March 13th during spring break at Duke University, located just off campus. It was rented by three captains of the Duke lacrosse team who lived there.

The party that afternoon started about 2 p.m. and as the day wore on, the players were in and out of the house. What is not in dispute here is that there was drinking and two exotic dancers were hired to perform that night. By the time the dancers arrived after 11 p.m., 35 players from the lacrosse team were at the party.

"I'd say at least half of them were tipsy or better. Tipsy or better," says Kim Roberts, the other dancer paid to perform that night and a central witness in the case.

Roberts went by the stage name “Nikki”, and has consistently maintained that she never witnessed a sexual assault in the house. But she has wavered in her opinions and recollections about the case. At first she said the allegations by the accuser, known as “Precious,” were “a crock.” And then later she believed “they were guilty.” Now, she says she just wants to stick to the facts.

"I’m not a detective, I’m not the D.A. I'm just a girl who was there. So honestly, what needs to happen is you hear my version, you hear their version, put it together. Sift through the bull. And hopefully come out with as much truth as possible," Roberts tells Bradley.

Roberts gave 60 Minutes a detailed account of what she witnessed at the party that night. She says the dance got underway just around midnight, as seen here in a time-stamped photograph taken by one of the players.

"We were doing, you know, things that strippers are supposed to do," Roberts recalls.

Asked how the players were reacting, she says, "They seemed happy, you know? They seemed eager. They were really ready for us to come. When we came out, they hooted and hollered. I thought they were getting a good little eyeful."

The smiling and the cheering didn’t last long. The dancer known as "Precious" soon began stumbling and falling on the floor of the living room. "Precious" later told the police that she had been drinking that night. She was also taking Flexeril, a powerful prescription muscle relaxant.

"At some point you said that she seemed intoxicated," Bradley tells Roberts.

"Yeah, something was going on, you know, where we were stumbling over each other, falling against each other, maybe almost tripping each other. So it started to get a little uncomfortable," she replies.

What happened next would alter the outcome of the entire evening. The women danced for a few minutes until one of the lacrosse players asked them if they had any sex toys. That player then followed up with a provocative comment about a broomstick.

"He asked about the sex toys. I was not offended about that question. Didn't bother me at all. I told him 'Didn't have any. Good idea though fella. You know, that would've, you know, eaten up some time,'" Roberts recalls, laughing. "But as soon as I said that, he said 'Don't worry, don't worry, we'll just use this on you.' And I started to think, 'What if they did really want to use a broomstick?' What if, you know?"

Asked if she felt threatened or intimidated by the broomstick, Roberts tells Bradley, "Definitely. All of that. Not necessarily completely threatened that he might use that actual broomstick but threatened that if he would say that and I've only been on this dance floor for ten minutes, what's the next step? You know what I mean? What's next? What's the next thing they might say?"

At this point, Roberts says they stopped dancing.

After that, David Evans says that his teammates, who had paid the women $800 for a two-hour performance, felt cheated.

"When they stopped, a lot of, there was a lot of confusion in the room, you know. Guys thought that we might have been hustled when they said they were leaving. We paid $800 and they were there for five minutes. And, naturally guys got upset," he says.

A photograph shows the dancers leaving the living room at 12:04 a.m. Shortly after, they locked themselves in the bathroom. The players began to argue with them through the door, insisting that they come out and continue dancing.

"We were pretty much crouched behind the door. And the boys are knockin'. The boys are knockin'. The boys are knockin' and she is worked at this point, too. She's yellin' and screamin', 'Just leave us alone. Just leave us alone, leave us alone.' So I didn't really know what to do. It wasn’t you, know, cajoling or it wasn’t sweet. It was they were coaxing us but in their own boyish, rude way," Roberts explains.

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