ESPN has released a new trailer for the next installment of its 30 for 30 series and it’s set to be a doozy. “Fantastic Lies” is the story of the infamous Duke lacrosse team case, and was directed by Marina Zenovich, who is famous for her Emmy-winning documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.
ESPN issued the following statement about “Fantastic Lies”:
“Fantastic Lies” will return to the night of March 13, 2006, when Duke University lacrosse players threw a team party that ended up changing lives, ruining careers, tarnishing a university’s reputation and even jeopardizing the future of the sport at the school. The film, from acclaimed director Marina Zenovich (“Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired”), will premiere on the 10th anniversary of the party that ignited what became a national firestorm and resulted in a highly-charged legal investigation. Usually confined to the sports section, lacrosse suddenly appeared on the front pages of newspapers because of the lurid details of the case and the hot buttons that it pushed: sex, race, class, violence.
The film is set to debut exactly 10 years to the day from the night of the party that started the controversy, March 13, 2016.
For those not familiar with the case, on March 13, 2006 Duke’s lacrosse team threw a party. In the aftermath, Crystal Gail Mangum – a student at North Carolina Central University who had been working part-time as a stripper – alleged that she had been raped at the party. On March 15 the rape investigation went public and on April 18, team members Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were arrested and indicted on charges of first degree forcible rape, first degree sexual offense and kidnapping. Former team captain David Evans was indicted for the same offenses on May 15.
On December 15, district attorney Mike Nifong dropped the rape charges after Mangum changed her story, but the other charges stood. On December 28, the North Carolina bar filed ethics charges against Nifong over his conduct in the case. On April 27, 2007, the attorney general of North Carolina declared Seligmann, Finnerty and Evens all innocent, dropped the charges and referred to Nifong as a “rogue prosecutor.”
The case began as a crusade against everything that was wrong with racial and sexual tension at southern universities and athletic programs and many in the media took up the torch against Duke’s lacrosse players. They were vilified nationally for months. In the end, they were found to be completely innocent and were vindicated despite the fact that their lives had been ruined.
The documentary looks to be a fantastic exploration of how this all came to pass.