DURHAM, N.C. Duke University has reached an undisclosed financial settlement with three former lacrosse players falsely accused of rape, while a judge said late Monday he would order the disbarred prosecutor to leave office immediately.
Duke had suspended Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans after they were charged last year with raping a stripper at an off-campus party. The university also canceled the team's season and forced their coach to resign.
"We welcomed their exoneration and deeply regret the difficult year they and their families have had to endure," the school said Monday in a statement.
The allegations were debunked in April by state prosecutors, who said the players were the innocent victims of a "tragic rush to accuse" by Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong. He was disbarred Saturday for breaking more than two dozen rules of professional conduct in his handling of the case.
The players' families racked up millions of dollars of legal bills in their defense, and appear likely to file a lawsuit against Nifong.
Earlier Monday, Nifong said he planned to leave office next month in a resignation letter to Gov. Mike Easley and to Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson, who is overseeing a pending request to remove Nifong from office.
But Nifong's July 13 departure date wasn't soon enough for Hudson, who decided late Monday to suspend Nifong from office.