Players, Attorneys In Duke Case Say There's Nothing To Celebrate

Friends applauded. Dozens of teammates cheered. Mothers and fathers looked on with pride. It felt, for a moment, like a pep rally.

But the three Duke lacrosse players cleared yesterday of raping a stripper at a team party insisted there was nothing to celebrate. They lashed out at both the prosecutor who doggedly pursued them and reporters who were enthralled by the prospect they were guilty.

Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, David Evans and their attorneys spoke during a news conference at a hotel in downtown Raleigh yesterday.

They all saved most of their anger for Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, the veteran prosecutor who took over the case in its early days. Nifong pressed ahead even as evidence mounted that the players were innocent.

Nifong once called the players ``hooligans'' and denounced what he called a ``blue wall of silence.''

Seligmann says everyone will now remember that it was the players that told the truth.