Two Duke Lacrosse Players Arrested; DA Hopes to Charge Third
Two Duke University lacrosse players were arrested early Tuesday on charges of raping and kidnapping an exotic dancer hired to dance at an off-campus party, and the district attorney says he hopes to charge a third person soon.
The indictments, unsealed Tuesday, did not indicate what possible evidence or arguments led the grand jury Monday to indict Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, both 20. District Attorney Mike Nifong would not discuss the evidence.
“It had been my hope to charge all three of the assailants at the same time, but the evidence available to me at this moment does not permit that,” Nifong said. “Investigation into the identity of the third assailant will continue in the hope that he can also be identified with certainty.”
Seligmann posted a $400,000 bond shortly after his arrest, and Finnerty was in the process of doing so for the same amount, says Col. George Naylor of the Durham County jail.
Earlier, Seligmann, a 6-foot-1 sophomore from Essex Fells, N.J., and Finnerty, a 6-foot-3 sophomore from Garden City, N.Y., were led out of a police cruiser in handcuffs, one wearing a tie and jacket, the other in a button-down shirt and jeans.
Seligmann is “absolutely innocent,” says his attorney, Kirk Osborn. “He’s doing great. That’s all I have to say.”
Asked what led to the indictments, Osborn said: “Apparently it was a photographic identification. And we all know how reliable that is.”
The alleged victim, a 27-year-old Black mother of two, told police she was attacked March 13 by three White men in a bathroom at a party held by the lacrosse team.
The racially charged allegations have led to near daily protest rallies. The school canceled the highly ranked team’s season and accepted the resignation of coach Mike Pressler after the release of a vulgar and graphic e-mail that was sent by a team member shortly after the alleged assault.
Defense attorneys have urged Nifong to drop the case, saying DNA tests failed to connect any of the 46 White team members to the alleged victim.
But Nifong has argued that he has enough evidence to proceed. He has said 75 percent to 80 percent of rape prosecutions lack DNA evidence. According to court records, a medical examination of the woman found injuries consistent with rape.
Defense attorneys have said time-stamped photos taken the night of the party show that the alleged victim was injured and impaired before she arrived.
Nifong has declined to discuss the case. He was appointed to the job last year after nearly three decades as a lawyer in the district attorney’s office and is up for election.
Duke athletic director Joe Alleva says the university’s executive vice president reviewed the lacrosse team’s disciplinary record last year, then discussed his findings with Alleva.
“He said there were too many incidents, but there are not enough incidents to make a drastic change in the program at this point in time,” Alleva told The Herald-Sun of Durham. Alleva says he told the coach “his team was under the microscope, and he had to do everything he could to get them in line and to not have any more behavior problems.”
The review by Tallman Trask III, Duke’s executive vice president, was spurred by reports of “boorish behavior” by the lacrosse team, Alleva says.
Sue Wasiolek, Duke’s dean of students and assistant vice president for student affairs, says the review showed the lacrosse team had a “disproportionate” number of violations of the campus judicial code. None was particularly serious, but administrators were concerned about the cumulative record and the fact that some players had several violations, she says.
— Associated Press
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