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N.C. court: Firing OK in Duke lacrosse case

RALEIGH, N.C. — The man who wrote the report that obscured the results of the DNA tests in the Duke University lacrosse case might be owed more money, but he doesn’t deserve to get his job back, the state Court of Appeals said in a ruling Tuesday.

The company owner was within his rights when he fired Brian Meehan in October 2007, the three judges said in a unanimous opinion that upheld most of a lower court’s summary judgment in the case.

The judges relied on the employment agreement between Meehan, who owned DNA Security Inc., and Richard Clark, president of American Media International. In 2004, AMI bought all of DSI’s stock and agreed that Meehan would remain employed for seven years. The agreement refers to an employee handbook that said Meehan could be fired for several reasons, including substandard performance.

The judges said Meehan personally supervised and conducted DNA testing and wrote the May 2006 report that obscured the facts of that testing. By doing that, Meehan engaged in the substandard performance mentioned in the handbook and met the grounds for termination, the ruling said.

A message seeking comment was left for Meehan’s attorney.

Once attorneys unraveled the differences between the actual results and Meehan’s report, the case fell apart. It had started when a stripper said she was raped at a lacrosse team party at which she was hired to perform. Three players were indicted on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual offense until the state attorney general declared them to be innocent victims of a “tragic rush to accuse.”

The case also was the downfall of the lead prosecutor, former Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, who was disbarred.