The attorney general from North Carolina says prosecutors have dropped all remaining charges against three Duke University lacrosse players accused last year of sexually assaulting a woman.

Roy Cooper said Wednesday there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the charges of kidnapping and sexual assault against the three athletes, David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.

Cooper also criticized the former prosecutor on the case, District Attorney Mike Nifong for rushing to accuse the defendants.

At a news conference, the cleared defendants said they were relieved the case had been dropped. One of the men, David Evans said he was excited to get on with his life after what he called a year-long "nightmare." But he said he hoped the allegations do not come to define him.

Also Wednesday, the president of Duke University, Richard Brodhead said he welcomed the attorney general's announcement. In a statement, he said he trusts that the decision "will begin a new day for all involved."

Last March, a woman said she was assaulted at a lacrosse team party where she had been hired to perform as a stripper.

Initial rape charges against the defendants were dropped in December, when the accuser told investigators she was uncertain about crucial details.

The case received a great deal of media attention, in part because of its racial and class overtones. The accuser is a black student at a public university, while all three defendants are white and attended the elite private school.