Two Lacrosse Players Taken Into Custody
Men Face Charges of Rape, Sexual Offense and Kidnapping
By TIM WHITMIRE, AP
DURHAM, N.C. (April 18) - Two 20-year-old Duke University lacrosse players were arrested early Tuesday on charges of raping and kidnapping a stripper hired to dance at an off-campus party.
Reade Seligmann posted a $400,000 bond and Collin Finnerty was in the process of doing so for the same amount, said Col. George Naylor of the Durham County jail. By posting bond, the players avoided making an initial court appearance later in the day.
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 separate police cruisers in handcuffs. One was wearing a suit jacket, the other was in dress shirt and jeans.
Seligmann is "absolutely innocent," said his attorney, Kirk Osborn. "He's doing great. That's all I have to say."
The alleged victim, a 27-year-old black woman and mother of two children, 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 District Attorney Mike Nifong to drop the case, saying DNA tests failed to connect any of the 46 team members tested to the alleged victim.
Nifong 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.
The charges come two weeks before Nifong, appointed to the job last year after nearly three decades as a lawyer in the district attorney's office, is up for election. On Monday, he repeatedly declined to comment on the case.
Brian Loftus, of Syossett, N.Y., the father of two players on the team, told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview broadcast Tuesday that he approached one of his sons and asked him about the alleged attack.
"I asked him ten times. I said, 'Did anything happen?' Both my sons ... all they ever told me was 'Dad, nothing happened. Nobody did anything,"' Loftus said.
Also Monday, school officials said the lacrosse coach was warned last year that his players had too many violations of the campus judicial code and he needed to "get them in line."
Duke athletic director Joe Alleva said 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's not enough incidents to make a drastic change in the program at this point in time," Alleva told The Herald-Sun of Durham.
Alleva then met with Pressler, telling the coach that "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," he said.
The review by Tallman Trask III, Duke's executive vice president, was spurred by reports of "boorish behavior" by the lacrosse team, Alleva said.
Sue Wasiolek, Duke's dean of students and assistant vice president for student affairs, said 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 said.