Three Duke Lacrosse Players Are Off the Hook

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Raleigh, N.C. (AP) Prosecutors have dropped all charges against the three Duke lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting a stripper at a party, saying the athletes were innocent victims of a ``rush to accuse'' by an overreaching district attorney.

In a blistering assessment of Durham County District Mike Nifong's handling of the case, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says there were a number of points in the case ``where caution would have served justice better than bravado.''

Cooper took over the case after Nifong was charged with ethics violations that could get him disbarred. Cooper says his own investigation concluded not only that the evidence against the young men was insufficient, but that no attack took place.

A grand jury indicted the three players on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual offense last spring, after a woman said she'd been assaulted at a team party where she'd been hired to perform as a stripper. All three steadfastly maintained their innocence.

The rape charges were dropped in December after the accuser changed a key detail in her story.

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