January 6, 2016

ESPN's 30 for 30 Series to Feature Duke Lacrosse Scandal

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive

ESPN's Emmy Award-winning 30 for 30 sports documentary series in March will feature a look at the Duke lacrosse scandal.

"Fantastic Lies," will debut at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday March 13 — the 10th anniversary, to the day — of the infamous team party that led to a chain of events that drew white-hot national media attention to the players, coaches and the university for a variety of reasons.

Three players were accused of rape by a dancer, who was also a student at nearby North Carolina Central University, hired for the party at an off-campus house. In response to the allegations, Duke first suspended the lacrosse team for the first two games of 2006, then a week later Duke coach Mike Pressler lost his job and the university canceled the remainder of the season.

The allegations, which led to the arrests of Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans, turned out to be false. The charges against them were dropped 11 months later, and Durham, N.C., district attorney Mike Nifong eventually resigned and was disbarred.

"The hard-hitting 'Fantastic Lies' goes far beyond the playing field with an examination of how multiple factors led to a miscarriage of justice," ESPN Films vice president and executive producer John Dahl said in a press release announcing the upcoming 30 for 30 slate, which also includes a look at the 1985 Chicago Bears and a documentary that examines the history of race over the last several decades through the lens of OJ Simpson's rise and fall.

Marina Zenovich is the director of Fantastic Lies. She has previously directed documentaries on filmmaker Roman Polanski and comedian Richard Pryor.

ESPN says the Duke documentary "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," and look at "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."

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