A spokeswoman for the White House says the president is “gratified” that innocent Duke University athletes have been cleared in a long-running rape case.

Spokeswoman Dana Perino initially had declined commenting on the question from Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House.

“The New York Times quoted Houston Baker, an English professor at Duke who has now relocated to Vanderbilt, as condemning what he called ‘rapacious white athletes given license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech, and feel proud of themselves – a scummy bunch of white males living like farm animals.’ The question: Does the president believe that this man and 87 other Duke faculty who also maligned these three lacrosse players found not guilty should now apologize, or not?”

“As much as you have tried to drag me into this story, I’m going to continue to resist it, Les. What’s your next question?” she initially answered.

But later during the press briefing, she added that the president is “gratified” when those who are “wrongly accused” are cleared.

Duke lacrosse players David Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were accused of rape by accuser Crystal Magnum, and have lived under that cloud of suspicion for a year.

But with state prosecutors recently dropping all charges in the case, the three now are considering what, if any, legal action they should bring because of the false allegations.

Lawyers have noted that the prosecutor has immunity for actions he takes as an advocate in the courtroom or dealing with the courts. But they also have concluded that his immunity probably is limited for the multiple statements made during news conferences during the case.

The prosecutor, Mike Nifong, currently is awaiting a disciplinary hearing before the state bar regarding his actions in the case, too.

In a “60 Minutes” interview, Seligman told CBS that when the state confirmed his innocence, “I completely broke down.

“Everybody was jumping up and down and we knew then that was when we got our lives back,” he said.

Attorney General Roy Cooper told the program that it was “really outrageous” that the case wasn’t ended sooner. He said the contradictions in the accuser’s story clearly pointed to the fact the attack didn’t happen.

Kinsolving also asked about the continuing storm over World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, who has come under criticism for advocating for a raise for a woman in the bank with whom he was linked romantically.

Perino was quoted, he said, in the New York Times, starting “with your 61-word announcement, beginning with, ‘The president has full confidence in Paul Wolfowitz.’ But the large Times headline above your quote was ‘the mounting storm on Wolfowitz,’ which The Washington Post headlined as ‘furor.’ And my question: Do you or the president believe that Mr. Wolfowitz has been libeled by these newspapers publishing details of his personal life?”

“Let me just reiterate for you that the president does have full confidence in Paul Wolfowitz. He has done a very good job at the World Bank, where they are working to lift people up out of poverty around the world. He’s focused on Africa and other areas around the world that need the World Bank’s attention. And the president continues to have confidence in him.”

She said she would decline to comment on the issue of libel.

“Does the president think he used good judgment in this incident, however?” Kinsolving asked.

“Look, what he knows is that Paul Wolfowitz has apologized, and the board at the World Bank is undergoing a review and I think I’ll have to leave it there,” she said.

Do you have a tough question you’d like to ask the White House? WND’s MR. PRESIDENT! forum is your big chance.

Special offers:

“Brotherhood of Darkness”

“Muhammad’s Monsters”

“Everlasting Hatred: The Roots of Jihad”

Sen. Tom Coburn’s “Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders into Insiders”

Get Ann’s latest and hottest book, “Godless: The Church of Liberalism”

“The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom”

Previous stories:

World Bank chief still has Bush’s support

Summit planned on war funding bill

Bush believes Imus apology appropriate

Perino suggests trying tabloid format

‘A lot of poor memories on Capitol Hill’

‘It’s reasonable for prosecutors to be changed’

Bush supports Gonzales’ Net campaign

‘No plans for Puerto Rico representation’

Guns, talk both part of Iraq solution, Snow says

‘Funding essential for Iraqi success’

Snow says Confederate flag is state issue

Listen up, Congress! says Snow

Snow: Officials will be held accountable

Snow seeks ‘cooler heads’ in border guards dispute

Troops to watch Dems for signs of support

Justice reviewing border agents’ transcripts

Imprisoned border agent beaten by fellow inmates

Let Biden, Obama talk, Snow says

It’s nice to see ‘Hanoi Jane,’ Snow says

Fonda to ride again as anti-war crusader

Is Fonda-Hayden reunion planned?

Vet bars Fonda film from theaters

Fonda distances herself from ‘fundamentalists’

Bush’s pro-life message marks ‘Roe’ anniversary

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.