Crime

Duke lacrosse accuser wants cash, new murder trial, but will ally land in court?

Crystal Mangum, right, in court on Friday, November 15, 2013 in Durham County Superior Court as evidence are presented during in a trial in which she was convicted of second-degree murder. On Tuesday, Mangum filed a complaint for malicious prosecution.
Crystal Mangum, right, in court on Friday, November 15, 2013 in Durham County Superior Court as evidence are presented during in a trial in which she was convicted of second-degree murder. On Tuesday, Mangum filed a complaint for malicious prosecution. hlynch@newsobserver.com

Crystal Mangum filed a complaint Tuesday alleging malicious prosecution by the Durham Police Department and the Durham County District Attorney’s Office in her 2013 second-degree murder conviction.

Mangum gained national attention after she accused a group of Duke University lacrosse players of raping her at a 2006 off-campus team party. Then N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper ultimately dropped all charges against the players and declared them innocent after an investigation by one of his special prosecutors.

District Attorney Mike Nifong was forced to resign and later lost his law license because of his actions in the case.

In an unrelated criminal case, a jury convicted Mangum, now 39, in November 2013, of murdering Reginald Daye, who died days after she stabbed him on April 3, 2011. Mangum testified that she stabbed Daye in self-defense.

Mangum was sentenced to 13 to 18 years in prison. She is currently in the Southern Correction Institution in Troy. Her projected release date is February 2026.

The Tuesday civil filing in Durham County Superior Court resurrects previous arguments outlined by Mangum and her advocates, including Sidney Harr, a retired physician and a co-founding member of the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong.

Harr says he is trying to protect Mangum, who continues to contend she was sexually assaulted at the Duke party, from a corrupt judicial system that is punishing her for accusing three Duke lacrosse players of rape.

The 39-page filing asks for more than $25,000 in damages and for Mangum to have a new trial, which is typically associated with criminal proceedings not civil.

District Attorney Roger Echols, who wasn’t DA at the time of the Mangum trial, and the Police Department declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Court order

Harr says he visits Mangum every week and that he helped her draft the lawsuit.

“I helped with it, and I typed it,” Harr said. “She didn’t dictate it to me word for word. I visit her every week almost since she has been incarcerated. We talk about her case constantly.”

That action, however, may violate a 2013 court order preventing Harr from practicing law in the state.

In February 2013, a Wake County Superior Court judge issued a permanent injunction against Harr preventing him from engaging or aiding with “acts and activities constituting the practice of law.”

The injunction came after the N.C. State Bar filed a complaint about Harr preparing or assisting Mangum with legal motions.

Harr said he is helping Mangum because no one else will. He said he reached out to private attorneys and organizations, who have declined to provide assistance.

“To me this is more about justice than it is about keeping people from assisting Crystal,” Harr said.

David Johnson, with the N.C. State Bar, said officials would have to evaluate whether Harr’s action warrant any enforcement action, which could include a contempt of court charge for violating the court order.

The Tuesday filing also attempts to connect Mangum’s situation to high-profile accusations of sexual assault and harassment in 2017, including dozens of women’s claims against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Previous appeal

In 2015, an attorney unsuccessfully filed an appeal to Mangum’s 2013 conviction, arguing that testimony at her trial about a dispute she and another man had in February 2010 should not have been allowed in the case.

Harr said he and Mangum filed grievances against the attorney who prepared that filing along with others who represented Mangum in the 2011 stabbing case.

The state bar took no action on the grievances, Harr said.

Daye told police before he died that Mangum had attacked him. Mangum said she stabbed Daye in self-defense.

The Tuesday filing argues that Mangum should have never been charged with two counts of “larceny of chose in action,” a charge that relates to taking a bank note, promissory note or other form of payment issued by a bank or related entity. Mangum had two of Daye’s money orders for rent. Harr says Daye asked Mangum to hold the money orders.

Mangum was convicted of second-degree murder, but not the larceny of chose in action crimes.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

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