As the three Duke lacrosse players were exonerated yesterday, their former coach watched from afar in a colleague's office, overjoyed.
"Two days after this happened, I knew what the truth was," Mike Pressler said. "It is the same truth today as it was a year ago. Our story has not changed, and today's announcement is long, long overdue."
Pressler spoke yesterday at Bryant University in Rhode Island, where he is in his first season coaching the men's lacrosse team. Pressler, who resigned under fire in the aftermath of the case, has a book that will be released in June titled "It's Not About the Truth," detailing his thoughts about the scandal.
"I hold the players at Duke University responsible for none of this," he said. "They were responsible for some poor judgment. They've certainly paid a hell of a price for some poor judgment."
With the case dropped, Pressler said there was a sense of closure on his 16-year term as Duke coach.
"I always said I'd finish my command when those guys were vindicated," he said. "And so today at 2:30, my command at Duke University concluded." -- JEFF GOLD
Taking a late morning stroll through his Garden City neighborhood, Leonard Rosenberg, 80, said it's good news that the charges were dropped. "They got no evidence ... " said the podiatrist as he paused just steps from Collin Finnerty's house.
In the heart of the commercial district, Thomas Tempesa, 25, of Mineola, said he thinks the politics of wealth and privilege had a hand in the dropping of the charges. "This sends a message to the privileged that they can do whatever they want with little to no consequences," he said.
Bill Brown, 62, like Finnerty a Chaminade graduate, said the players made a mistake when they collected the money to have the racy party, but there were holes in the case.
"The boys will be fine," he said. "In the future, they will be seen as the three Duke lacrosse players who were framed by the DA. The lesson here is always do what's right." -- DEBORAH S. MORRIS
At State Supreme Court, reactions were mixed.
Jeffrey Dessources, 25, of Elmont, said he didn't think dropping all charges seemed fair.
"Every single charge?" he said. "By dismissing all charges, you're dismissing all responsibility of what went on."
Elbert Orr, 62, of Hempstead, said while DA Mike Nifong should be held accountable, Orr still believes something happened the night of the party. "Something is wrong with this case. You don't know who to believe," he said. "I think they should have been charged with something."
Leslie Gonzalez, 34, of Mineola, said she understood why the attorney general decided to drop the case: "If there's not enough evidence, you've got to let it go."
Mary Myers, 47, of Massapequa, said when the story first emerged, she tended to believe the accuser. But as the case started to fall apart, Myers said, she began to think the story was fabricated.
"They [the players] probably don't think so, but I don't think they are tarnished." -- DEBORAH S. MORRIS
In Raleigh, N.C., Monika Johnson Hostler of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault said the media attention and dismissal of the charges in the case may discourage survivors of sexual assaults to come forward. "Future survivors, as well as those who have already come forward, they're afraid of how they will be treated," she said. -- SOPHIA CHANG
The alma mater
The news about Collin Finnerty, a 2004 grad, coursed through the locker rooms and playing fields at Chaminade High School in Mineola: "He's free."
Smiling boys passed the word during lacrosse practice. "He deserves a break after everything he's been put through," said Matt Plominski, of Port Washington, a senior lacrosse player.
Lacrosse coach Jack Moran, who coached Finnerty, called the prosecutors' reversal "long overdue." Moran said that the Catholic boys school taught Finnerty, now a part-time assistant coach at Chaminade, an important lesson: "If you are a moral person, if you believe in your convictions, you'll be able to weather some of the storms in your life." -- DAVE MARCUS
At the Bryan Center on the Duke campus in Durham, the atmosphere among students was one of relief.
Some were quick to express resentment at the voracious public interest in the case, which they said unfairly eclipsed many of the constructive things Duke students do.Others indicated they were tired of the issue and the media scrutiny. "At this point, everyone is just ready to move on," said Matea, 19, a sophomore who didn't provide her full name.
-- BART JONES AND JOSEPH MALLIA
Reactions to Duke lacrosse charges being dropped - Newsday.com
I can't wait for Al Sharpton's and Jesse Jackson's apology