SI, JUNE 26, 2006 Already disbarred for misconduct in the investigation of an alleged sexual assault involving the Duke lacrosse team, former North Carolina prosecutor Mike Nifong (below) now claims to be in the poorhouse. Nifong declared bankruptcy on Jan. 15—the same day he had to respond to a federal lawsuit pending against him. Nifong reported assets of $243,898 and liabilities of $180.3 million, most of which is in anticipated damages from the suit. In October former players David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann accused Nifong of "premeditated police, prosecutorial and scientific misconduct" in the 2006 investigation that ultimately led to their exoneration. In December three other players sued for emotional trauma. Twenty-two months after referring to the team as a "bunch of hooligans," Nifong now lists the six players as unsecured creditors, potentially owed $30 million each in damages.
By filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, Nifong is seeking to protect his assets from a potential judgment against him. But he would not be shielded from financial claims if a judge finds that his mistreatment of the players was "willful and malicious"—precisely what Seligmann's lawyer says he plans to contend.