Thursday, 20 April 2006

Finnerty search warrant

WRAL has the search warrant for the room Collin Finnerty shared with a fellow Duke lacrosse player in Edens 2C up in all its glory. Police, who were still on their quixotic quest to find the missing white shoe lost by the alleged victim, came away with a New York Times article by Janet Macur from April 4th (presumably this one) and a letter (or at least the envelope the letter came in) from a female student at Boston College dated from last September. Nothing in the search warrant’s description of the events as alleged by the attacker actually connects Finnerty to the rape, leaving one to suspect that the only reason the police were able to secure the warrant was Finnerty’s indictment by the grand jury.

No word yet on the warrant for Seligmann’s room.

Update: NBC 17 reports police took “an iPod and a photo of friends from Seligmann's room.”

More from the cabbie

The AP reports (thanks to Sharon in the comments on the post below) that our cabbie also picked up another fare from the Duke lacrosse party later on:

A cab driver called to take a Duke University lacrosse player home from a team party says his passenger [Reade Seligmann], now charged with raping an exotic dancer, seemed calm and even jovial that night. But a second passenger he picked up later was talking about a stripper, he said.

Moez Mostafa said the second passenger spoke about a stripper in a tone that made it “look to me like somebody get hurt.” ...

In an interview on MSNBC, Mostafa said he returned to the house later to pick up another customer. He said he remembered that person “said in a loud voice, ‘She just a stripper.’”

Asked whether the second fare was complaining about the stripper or whether it appeared something bad had happened to her, Mostafa initially said he didn’t “have any information about what was going on in the house.”

“When I look back, he look like he mad at the stripper. Or the stripper, she going to call the police and she just a stripper. ... It look to me like somebody get hurt. But what kind of harm, ... I have no idea.”

This actually sort-of fits in with a theory of events that suddenly hit me after putting together the post on Finnerty and Seligmann’s alibis… which I’ll leave you hanging on until later this afternoon.

Dissecting the alibis

Buried in a boring story about how Duke can learn a lesson from Wake Forest (presumably not “move away from the craphole town your university is currently located in to find greener pastures elsewhere”) are some details of the alibis that Duke lacrosse players Collin Finnery and Reade Seligmann say place them elsewhere at the time the alleged victim may be saying she was raped:

Attorney sources said that Finnerty contends he has an alibi—that he was at a Mexican restaurant-bar near Ninth Street when the alleged rape occurred. On Tuesday, defense lawyers said Seligmann also has an alibi—that he and a friend left 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., walked to the nearby intersection of Urban Avenue and Watts Street and called a cab.

In an interview Wednesday afternoon, taxi driver Moez Mostafar said his phone records show he got a call from Seligmann’s cell phone at 12:14 a.m. March 14 and picked him and his friend up about five minutes later.

Mostafar said he didn’t know his customers had anything to do with the alleged rape until an attorney called him about it a week or so ago.

“I was surprised,” he said. “I’m involved now in something big.”

Mostafar, 37, said he was reluctant to talk at first, but that a visit from Seligmann’s father changed his mind.

“I didn’t want to get involved, but when his father came and said it was a really serious situation, I talked to them,” he said.

Defense attorneys have said the period between 12:10 and 12:30 a.m. was the only plausible time for a rape to have occurred. But authorities have never publicly pinpointed an exact time.

Mostafar, who works with On-Time Taxi and Shuttle Service, remembered ferrying his passengers back to Edens dormitory—via a bank and a fast-food restaurant. He said he doesn’t recall anything suspicious about his passengers or the circumstances of the fare.

“They are normal, I didn’t see anything wrong with them,” Mostafar said. “I didn’t pay attention because nothing looked suspicious at all. They just wanted to get some food and take a ride home.”

He said he dropped them off at the dorm between 12:40 and 1 a.m.

Mostafar said the main thing he remembered was his passengers’ generosity. He got $25 for an $18 fare.

Let’s deal with Finnerty first; he’s easier. He probably was at Cosmic Cantina on Perry Street, a popular late-night hangout for Duke students modulo the occasional mugging of students going to or from East a block to the, um, east. Cosmic doesn’t take meal plan points except on delivery, so Finnerty won’t have a DukeCard swipe proving he was there, but he probably paid with debit or credit like all the kids do these days. It’s plausible that he’d be there around midnight, perhaps getting some Mexican to counteract the effects of spending a bit of time at Charlie’s a couple of blocks away—then he could hail a cab home or mosey over to the East Campus bus stop and ride home to Edens. Since it was Spring Break and business was probably light, perhaps even the counter staff will remember him being there, although I doubt they can nail down times.

Seligmann’s wild ride, on the other hand, is a bit more complex. We are told Seligmann and a fellow player walked about a block and a half to hail a cab—specifically, to the intersection of Watts and Urban streets, one block east of Buchanan and one house to the north of 610. Why would you walk to a residential intersection (Watts and Urban) to hail a cab, when 610 is on a relative main drag (Buchanan) and you’re a block south of a real intersection with traffic lights and everything at Buchanan and Markham?

Here’s a possibility: remember our good neighborly pals who got out their pots and pans last month? They started out, as you remember, at 610 North Buchanan. Then, before deciding to go harass Peter Lange, they made another stop, at “a second house rented by members of the lacrosse team”—1103 Urban Street—at the intersection of (you guessed it) Watts and Urban. So logically, Seligmann’s buddy (we’ll call him Player Two) either (a) wasn’t at the party and joined him from 1103 Urban or (b) decided to drop some stuff off/pick some stuff up at the second house before the taxi arrived. (There are other theories to explain this too, such as the residents of 1103 leaving 610 to go home around the same time and Seligmann and Player Two walking back with them before hailing a cab.)

Where do they go next? Wachovia Bank, at the intersection of 9th Street and Main. Then it’s off further to the west, according to Rita Crosby’s MSNBC interview with the taxi driver, to The Cook-Out on Hillsborough Road—where in more recent times, two Duke students were allegedly assaulted by some NCCU students at the drive-thru. Good luck getting an eyewitness account from those folks, Reede.

Finally, they trek back over to Edens 2C, where Seligmann opens the door with his DukeCard and he and Player Two go inside after giving the driver a $7 tip on an $18 fare (generous lads).

Seligmann’s alibi seems pretty airtight—if the rape definitely happened around 12:15. They have a cab driver, they have phone records, and they probably have camera footage from the ATM (assuming it wasn’t busted). Finnerty seems to be on shakier ground, but it seems logical that a guy on virtual probation for the November 2005 incident would avoid the Spring Break party and a non-negligible chance of being arrested for underage drinking and screwing up his diversionary sentencing program.

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

Back to the future

A reader draws my attention back to the April 2 public editor column in the News & Observer, in which Ted Vaden wrote in regards to the rape allegations against (then unnamed) members of the Duke lacrosse team:

[N&O deputy managing editor Linda] Williams said editors and the reporter discussed the fairness issue at length before interviewing the woman and publishing the story. The governing decision, she said, was to print only information from the interview that conformed with the police reports. “We limited for publication the statements from the woman that were in line with what she said in the police report,” Williams said. Other information from the interview has not been published.

I noted before managing editor Melanie Sill’s rebuttal, which also alluded to the fact that the paper chose not to print additional statements made by the accuser.

One would hope that the N&O will soon make public any parts of the original interview they previously redacted that are consistent or inconsistent with the defense’s statements about the events of the evening of March 13–14.

More afternoon linkage

Some bullet points around the web on the whole Duke lacrosse thing:

  • A Q&A with Lester Munson at
  • Tom Maguire’s comment thread from yesterday is long—too long. He speculates, “my guess is that once the District Attorney gets past his election situation in early May, the wheels will fall off. My sources in New Jersey assure me that there is nothing to this, but who knows?”
  • A few local bloggers of note: John in Carolina continues to hammer the News & Observer for its coverage, Laura of Survival Theory has been on the case with a few interesting comment threads, and those looking for someone who is less credulous of the defense may find my neighbor Lisa B. more to their liking; I only use the term “Townie” out of pure love for my fellow Trinity Park residents.
  • Finally, the latest DukeObsrvr comment thread is worth a skim; I’d say the mood is a bit more pro-defense than the median student, but my sense (from a non-scientific discussion with a few of my students this afternoon) is that the median student at this point is pretty fed up about the whole thing and just wants it all to go away.

Some defense photos now online

NBC 17 has posted seven photos from the night of the alleged attack, as shown on MSNBC’s The Abrams Report this afternoon; these are part of the same set of photos taken at the party and previously described to the press and seen by various news outlets over the past week or so.

Your afternoon roundup

WRAL reports (apply your standard “potential defense attorney spin” detector accordingly) that the identifications made by the accuser were not may not have been of the players’ faces:

An exotic dancer who says three Duke lacrosse players raped her may have identified two of them based on photographs that show scratches on their bodies, a defense attorney for one of the men said Wednesday.

Attorney Bill Cotter said that when 46 members of the lacrosse team submitted court-ordered DNA samples last month, they were also photographed without their shirts. ...

A search of Finnerty’s dorm room Tuesday, however, was a clear sign that the investigation is rapidly continuing. A resident assistant told WRAL that Durham police investigators searched Seligmann’s and Finnerty’s rooms at Edens 2C Residence Hall for two hours Tuesday night.

Sources tell WRAL that the officers were looking for Finnerty’s computer and that they seized several undisclosed items.

The News & Observer adds that “Cotter said Tuesday that police searched Finnerty’s dorm room Tuesday night and said he believed they also served a search warrant in Seligmann’s room in the Edens dormitory. Cotter said it is unusual for authorities to serve a search warrant on someone who has already been indicted.” They also have a handy graphic of the timelines produced by the prosecution and defense attorneys, although it does not include Seligmann’s ATM and munchies trek that is believed to start around 12:15 a.m.

ABC 11 has exclusive results from an opinion poll of Durham County voters, although the most important question—who respondents planned to vote for—seems to have been omitted from the poll. Nifong received a 35% favorable and 30% unfavorable rating from respondents; as this is within the margin of error of the poll, we can’t conclude that Nifong’s favorables outweigh his unfavorables in the underlying population. One of Nifong’s challengers, former assistant DA Freda Black, started taking shots at Nifong Tuesday in a recorded phone message for Durham voters.

Also of interest: photos from Don Ingle, one of WRAL’s news photographers, of the circus around the Durham County Courthouse, and ponderances on the media coverage by WRAL anchor/reporter David Crabtree.

Death Cab for Seligmann

The papers are having trouble verifying part of lacrosse player Reade Seligmann’s alibi for the time of the alleged rape:

Defense lawyers for the players told The Durham Herald-Sun that Seligmann called a cab at 12:14 a.m. and was driven away from N. Buchanan Boulevard five minutes later. In addition, they claimed that an ATM security camera filmed Seligmann while making a withdrawal at 12:24 a.m.

The Herald-Sun called 12 Durham-based taxi companies, all of which denied dispatching a cab to the house where the party occurred the night of the alleged incident.

Also, WRAL has the Tuesday search being of Finnerty’s dorm room, while the accuser’s camp appears to be converging on “she was drugged” as a theory of events:

A cousin of the accuser who has been acting as a spokeswoman for her family disputed that allegations in an interview on ABC‘s “Good Morning America” Wednesday. She identified herself only by her first name, Jackie, to protect the woman’s identity.

“Before she went to the party she was not intoxicated, she was not drinking,” Jackie said. “There’s a great possibility that when she went to the party, she was given a drink and it was drugged.”

Update: More on Seligmann’s cab ride:

Around midnight the night of March 13, Seligmann was already at the party when two women hired from a local escort agency arrived to dance for the boys — $400 each for a two-hour performance. A series of time-stamped photographs viewed by ABC News show the girls dancing at midnight and at 12:02 a.m.

By 12:24 a.m., a receipt reviewed by ABC indicates that Seligmann's ATM card was used at a nearby Wachovia bank. In a written statement to the defense also reviewed by ABC, a cabdriver confirms picking up Seligmann and a friend a block and a half from the party, and driving them to the bank. By 12:25 a.m., he was making a phone call to a girlfriend out of state.

What did Seligmann do after leaving the bank? The taxi driver remembers taking him to a drive-thru fast-food restaurant and then dropping him off at his dorm. Duke University records show that Seligmann's card was used to gain entry at 12:46 a.m.

In addition to bolstering Seligmann's alibi, the taxi driver's written testimony provided a rare glimpse of color in an otherwise darkened night.

"I remember those two guys starting enjoying their food inside my car, but I'm glad I end up with a nice tip and fare $25," the taxi driver said in his testimony.

I’m still not sure why the team captains told police that Seligmann wasn’t at the party, but maybe they can’t tell their fellow players apart either…

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Seligmann indictment oddities

The latest from The New York Times adds to the confusion as to why Seligmann was one of the two players indicted:

At least one of the two players charged will be able to show an A.T.M. receipt and a record that he called a restaurant to order food and picked it up before the alleged assault, according to a defense lawyer involved in the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because the charged players were not clients.

Julian Mack, a lawyer for Mr. Seligmann until Monday, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Seligmann had an excellent alibi, which the district attorney had never asked about.

“The evidence will clearly show that there is no way he could have been at that place at that time,” Mr. Mack said. He declined to be more specific.

A court filing by the district attorney’s office on March 23 indicated that Mr. Seligmann was one of five players who investigators had been told were not at the party.

Has anyone seen this March 23 filing, presumably the one that Nifong used to get his order for the players to produce DNA?

Me, in transcript form

For those of you who missed my 15 minutes of fame, here’s a transcript from CNN. I’ve tried to reconstruct what I said in the audio gaps from the webcam to the best of my memory.

Edens: where all the action is

Apparently, Durham Police have a fetish for searching Edens Quad:

Hours after charging two Duke University lacrosse players with rape, Durham police searched a dormitory room on the Duke campus for more evidence in the case.

Investigators executed a search warrant and searched a room at the Edens 2C Residence Hall. There was no immediate word on what police hoped to recover in the search.

Since Finnerty and Seligmann both live(d) in Edens (although it’s not clear if they live in building 2C, which is where Ryan McFadyen lived), it is possible that one of their rooms was the one that was searched, and the search would require a separate warrant from their arrest. On the other hand, maybe the cops just can’t find any other dorms and keep going back to Edens…

Elsewhere, WRAL has the arrest paperwork for Finnerty and Seligmann. Interestingly, both say they were ordered sealed on April 13th, last Thursday, before the grand jury met.

Moneta to world: read between the lines

Without federal regulations, what would we do? I hand over the mike to Duke’s own Larry Moneta:

Two Duke University students have been indicted by a grand jury investigating allegations of sexual assault against a Durham woman.

The university is prohibited under federal privacy regulations from releasing information regarding student disciplinary matters. (For more information about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act—FERPA—see

Historically, it has been the university’s practice to issue an interim suspension when a student is charged with a felony or when the student’s presence on the campus may create an unsafe situation.

Translation from Moneta-ese: Finnerty and Seligmann are suspended. But I didn’t tell you that, because if I had, I’d have violated FERPA, so I didn’t. Hopefully your head now hurts enough that you won’t sue me. Thank you; I now have to go back to my sole reason for living: honking off the residents of Trinity Park.

JBB: on the money

I didn’t read Jack Bauer’s Bidet yesterday, but it’s looking eerily prescient today:

Q: How do you tell the difference between one New England Establishment Pretty-Boy and another New England Establishment Pretty-Boy three weeks after you meet them?

A: You can’t.

JBB also takes a few other shots that are worth a laugh or two, although I doubt anyone over 30 or so will get the Oregon Trail references.

Your arrestees, including a familiar name

From the Duke Chronicle: the two players who were indicted are now identified:

Durham law enforcement officers arrested two lacrosse teammates early Tuesday morning in connection with allegations members of the team raped a woman at a March 13 party.

The two students, sophomores Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, each are charged with first degree forcible rape, first degree sexual offense and kidnapping, said Colonel George Naylor, director of the sheriff department’s detention facility.

Finnerty and Seligmann each have a bond of $400,000. If they do not make bond, their first appearance in court could be Tuesday. “There is a process going on,” Naylor said. ...

Finnerty is currently facing charges in Washington D.C. of simple assault. According to court records, Finnerty allegedly assaulted a Georgetown player after he called Finnerty gay in the early morning of Nov. 5, 2005. [this account is inaccurate; see below - ed]

Sucks to be them, I suppose…

I have some work I need to be doing the next few hours before teaching at 1:15, so don’t expect a lot of updates until this afternoon.

Update: The New York Times gives a different account of Finnerty’s 2005 arrest; Seligmann has been released on $400,000 bond, while Finnerty’s release is pending.

Update 2: Another high-quality witness identification, if this is to be believed:

Sources close to the investigation told CNN Tuesday that the defense will present evidence—including ATM receipts and a cab driver—that neither Seligmann, 20, nor Finnerty, 19, were at the team party at the time the alleged rape took place.

In her defense, I’m told all white people look alike…

Update 3: Via email from a reader, the officer’s statement from Finnerty’s November 5 arrest; the Chronicle excerpt above managed to butcher the whole account.

Here’s my post from when the Finnerty arrest first surfaced in the papers; for those of you keeping track of the time the IDs were made, the story surfaced on the 4th or 5th, around the time the alleged victim is said to have identified her attackers.

Alleva: Pressler was already on probation

Duke AD Joe Alleva and VP Tallman Trask already had the performance of ex-lacrosse coach Mike Pressler on their collective radar screens, according to Tuesday’s Herald-Sun:

A high-level review of the men’s lacrosse team’s disciplinary records last year prompted Duke’s athletics director to warn the coach his team was “under the microscope” and that players needed to improve their conduct, the director said Monday.

At the time, the team’s reputation nationally was for winning games. Today, the team stands disgraced, with two players indicted on still-undisclosed charges stemming from an alleged gang rape at a team party, the season terminated and the coach forced out of his job.

Although the team’s reputation for drinking and debauchery has drawn attention since the rape allegation last month, an explicit warning to Coach Mike Pressler about the team’s behavior has not been previously revealed.

Will Alleva be the next to go? Only the Magic 8 Ball (and Dick Brodhead) knows…

Monday, 17 April 2006

Mike Nifong: Captain Oblivious

One of the Nifong quotes from this afternoon is so priceless it’s worth sharing:

“I no longer get to go anywhere in my community without people knowing who I am,” Nifong said. “I wish you could find me a way to give me my anonymity back.”

First, having blue and white campaign signs with your name on them all around town hardly qualifies as “anonymity.” Second, I’ll give you three guesses as to who is actually responsible for Nifong losing his “anonymity.”

Of course, what’s really going to up the Nifong annoyance quotient is his beaming face at tomorrow’s perp walk/Dillinger moment. Few people like a smartass, but nobody likes a smartass who might actually be right…

One down, 45 (or 46) to go

We can start whittling the list of potential indictees down: the New York Times reports that our two lucky winners of a free perp walk do not include the most infamous figure in the case thus far:

Glen Bachman, the lawyer for Ryan McFadyen, a lacrosse player who was suspended from the university after sending a vicious email related to the party, confirmed that two players had been indicted but said McFadyen was not one of them.

For the other 45 or 46 players (depending on whether or not the alleged victim is still sure her attackers were all white), here’s the list of countries the U.S. doesn’t have extradition treaties with. Of course, I suspect anyone who actually did commit a rape in this case already knew that and is probably on his way to Andorra as we speak, whether or not he has actually been indicted.

Update: Scratch another player from the list; down to 44/45:

Butch Williams, who represents team captain Dan Flannery [who ordered the strippers and was one of the three leaseholders on the party house], also said prosecutors told him that his client was not among those charged.

Nothing from Joe Cheshire regarding his client, Dave Evans (another of the co-captains), yet; the implication is that Robert Eckstrand, who represents most of the team members, is counsel for at least one, and probably both, of the indictees.

NBC 17 timeline

NBC 17 reported the following timeline beginning with the second 911 call on the 7 pm edition of its local news:

  • 1:22: Second 911 call from Kroger security guard.
  • 1:27: First officer arrives; his dispatch traffic (beginning around 1:30) is what we’ve heard before.
  • 1:32: Second officer arrives.
  • 1:49: Second officer decides to transport accuser to psychiatric facility on North Duke Street, instead of the “drunk tank” as the first officer was planning to do.
  • 1:55: Accuser arrives at psych facility.
  • 2:39: Accuser is transported from psych facility to Duke University Hospital ER.
  • 2:45: Accuser arrives at ER.
  • 2:50: Initial report of intoxicated person changed to rape.

NBC 17 also reported that the sealed indictments were requested by both Nifong and defense attorneys, albeit for different reasons. It is implied that there will be a prosecution press conference sometime tomorrow.

Two sealed indictments?

The News & Observer has an AP report on the results of today’s grand jury:

No members of Duke University’s lacrosse team were among the defendants publicly indicted Monday by a grand jury, which defense attorneys had expected to consider allegations that a stripper was raped at a team party.

However, it was not immediately clear if the grand jury returned any indictments under seal, or if any of the players were among the 24 cases “carried forward” to be heard at a later date.

The version at ABC 11’s website doesn’t add much, although perhaps it gives a bit of insight into the size of Mike Nifong’s ego:

Nifong emerged from his office around 3:20 p.m., weaving through a large crowd of cameras and reporters to a water fountain. As he has for the past two weeks, he refused to answer any questions about the case.

“I’m just happy to see all of you here,” he said.

Update: currently has a banner saying “Two sealed indictments are handed up in the Duke University lacrosse rape investigation, a source tells CNN.” I’m watching Abrams live on MSNBC, and he hasn’t confirmed this information (in fact, he’s been yakking about Natalee Holloway for the last 20 minutes). reports:

Prosecutors have informed defense attorneys that the alleged victim has identified two players with 100 percent certainty and is 90 percent certain on a third player, ABC News reports.

Make of that what you will…

D-Day Morning

Monday’s Herald-Sun, which seems to have more of a pulse on the defense than its Raleigh-based competitor, gives us the players’ attorneys’ perspective heading into Grand Jury Monday:

In what the defense team believes was another effort to get ready for the grand jury, police detectives went to a Duke dorm Thursday night to question lacrosse players. According to the defense lawyers, the officers wanted to know who was and wasn’t at the North Buchanan Boulevard party the night of March 13–14.

The effort to question the players, the lawyers say, proved authorities lack confidence in the dancer’s visual identification of her alleged attackers, which reportedly was made from photographs.

One of the lawyers, Kerry Sutton of Durham, described the interrogation over the weekend as a “hail Mary pass at the last moment.” ...

Jason Alexander Bissey, a neighbor to the house where the woman allegedly was raped, provided a written statement to defense attorneys that they shared with The Herald-Sun over the weekend.

Bissey said he saw the “skimpily dressed” accuser leave the house between 12:20 and 12:30 a.m., but then heard her say she was going back inside to retrieve a missing shoe.

According to defense lawyers, Bissey’s observation had to be after the time the woman allegedly was raped in the house, since she never actually re-entered it.

But if she had been raped and sodomized for 30 minutes, as she claimed, would she really have been so worried about a lost shoe that she would dare to face her attackers again, attorneys Ekstrand, Thomas and others are asking.

Meanwhile, NBC17 has an exclusive interview with the second dancer, who it (unusally, as she is not believed to be a victim of a sex crime) declines to name, although it is believed her first name is “Kim” and she is either black or Hispanic:

[The second dancer] refuted claims made in recent days by defense attorneys that the accuser was intoxicated and injured when she arrived at the party.

“She looked absolutely fine,” the second dancer said, noting that the accuser’s demeanor changed dramatically after they left the party.

“She was definitely a totally different woman than when I first met her. She definitely was under some sort of substance,” the woman said.

A source close to the official investigation of the case has told NBC17 that the accuser might have been drugged at the party.

The second dancer declined to discuss specifics of what happened at the party.

“If I could see the future and would have known what that night would’ve brought, I would have paid more attention. I wish I had paid more attention to everything that happened around me,” she said.

The woman admitted calling 911 to report racial epithets yelled at her and the accuser as they left the party. But she said the details of the incident became jumbled in her call because she was trying to hide the fact that she had been performing at the party.

The woman said her parents don’t know she makes a living as an exotic dancer, and she was afraid the information would be made public if she had been upfront with the 911 dispatcher.

Nothing much (yet?) from the somewhat more accuser-friendly confines of the News & Observer, although there is a FAQ on how grand juries work and a report on how the controversy is affecting recruitment of prospective students.

Sunday, 16 April 2006

Sunday Night Linkage

On Grand Jury Eve, TalkLeft’s Jeralynn Merritt reports:

One of the defense attorneys was on the same tv segment I was on earlier today and said the defense team has been told by the prosecutor that two players’ names will be submitted to the grand jury. Despite offers of all team members to surrender if they are charged, the DA refuses to identify the two players. This sounds to me like the DA is anxious to do an on-camera perp walk.

WRAL says Mike Nifong doesn’t need any steenking excuplatory evidence:

Defense attorneys said they had offered to show the pictures to District Attorney Mike Nifong, but he declined to see them.

“As I understand the exchange, as it was reported to me, the DA is not interested in a discussion about our evidence,” said defense attorney Bob Ekstrand. ...

Just as defense attorneys have said Nifong has not seen their evidence, they don’t know what happened after police drove the accuser away.

“Something happened in the interim to cause her to be admitted into the hospital later that morning,” Ekstrand said. “And we should be very interested to know what it was.”

Finally, NYU education prof Jonathan Zimmerman writes a Newsday op-ed in which he opines that athletic scholarships are a form of affirmative action for whitey. He obviously hasn’t seen most college football and basketball teams…

That timeline again

This week’s Newsweek has an account of the defense version of the timeline with a few different details that what’s been previously discussed; clearing up one question, the alleged victim arrived around 11:45 and was dropped off by someone else. There is also some debate over the second dancer’s story and how helpful it will be to the defense:

The second woman supports the partygoers’ story, says Thomas, who says he has seen a summary of an interview with her conducted by a member of the defense team. “Their versions are basically identical,” he says. But Mark Simeon, an attorney for the second dancer, tells NEWSWEEK that Thomas’s claim is not accurate. “She rejects the notion that she agrees with their timeline. I’ve shown their story line to my client, and she says there’s a lot that’s wrong with it. From the beginning, she has been cooperating fully with [Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong] and the police, and she looks forward to testifying truthfully at the trial.” Thomas replies, “She has given us several statements, so I don’t see any room for her to change her story now simply because she has a lawyer speaking for her.” Nifong could not be reached for comment.

The accuser and the editor

Two vaguely interesting pieces in Sunday’s News & Observer: a lengthy article on the background of the accuser that is perhaps more intriguing for what it doesn’t tell us than what it does, and the second is another public editor column. Like I said—vaguely interesting.

Monday may be a bit more exciting; the rumor mill over-under on the number of people Nifong can get the grand jury to indict is around 2. I already have Ryan McFadyen down for getting one—sending an obscene email has got to violate at least one law in North Carolina, and Nifong’s got to walk away with at least one conviction out of this whole thing just to keep some self-respect.

Who else does he go after? Maybe he goes for some penny-ante stuff to tide everyone over; he’s probably got photos that will let him go to bat on some underage alcohol consumption charges against the under-21s and illegal distribution of alcohol to minors for the rest. Maybe he figures he can use that stuff as leverage to find out more, since even though this stuff normally gets pled out to a fine, in this environment he can go to a Townie jury and get max sentencing on these charges. Maybe the pressure of potentially spending a year in the Durham County Jail gets someone to flip, although unless they have beer bottles (and not just Dixie cups) in their hands in the photos it’s going to be a tough conviction.

Beyond that, who knows? He probably can get a rape indictment if the grand jury doesn’t ask any tough questions. We have no clue what he’s got, and he doesn’t have to tell anyone what the grand jury sees—although out of 18 people on that grand jury, I think it’s a safe bet we will get a leak or six. So, we shall see. I expect a good preview leak out of the prosecution camp (or maybe some expectations management by defense attorneys) to surface in one of the papers for Monday’s editions, so clarity may be here sooner than you’d think.

Saturday, 15 April 2006

Investigators claim accuser was drugged

From NBC 17:

An unnamed source close to the investigation of a reported rape near the Duke University campus has told NBC 17 News that someone might have drugged the accuser the night she claims three lacrosse members raped her.

“She may have been slipped a date-rape drug in a mixed drink she was given by one of the lacrosse players shortly after she arrived,” the source told NBC 17 late Friday.

“Her condition is said to have changed dramatically in a short period of time, from being completely sober on arrival to passing out on the floor in a short period of time.”

Elsewhere, the News & Observer looks at the backgrounds of the three co-captains who held the lease on the party house, who “are the only players known to have talked to police” in the case, while WRAL reports on Jesse Jackson’s attempt to inject himself into the case.

Duke under siege, day 20: big media gets to see the photos

Saturday’s Herald-Sun has a detailed account of the party photos that players’ attorneys have asserted are exculpatory; their reporting also fits it into the timeline of the case. Perhaps the most interesting stuff is at the end of the article:

A police dispatch log then indicates that the dancer showed up at the Duke emergency room at 2:31 a.m. and entered Duke Hospital at 2:45 a.m.

[Defense attorney Bill] Thomas said the second dancer described her as being highly intoxicated. In addition, the woman never complained about being raped as the two dancers drove away from North Buchanan Boulevard, Thomas quoted the co-dancer as saying.

It remains unclear where the accuser was between being taken away by police to the “drunk tank” from Kroger at approximately 1:30 until her appearance at the Duke Hospital ER an hour later. However, with this new information it may be opportune to come up with a new integrated timeline.

The account also indicates that, in the first photo of the dancers at the party, taken at midnight, ”[b]ruises are clearly visible on the legs and thighs of the alleged victim.”

Also of interest is this snippet of a report at the NBC 17 website; the most interesting part is bolded:

Defense attorneys said two police investigators got into Edens Residence Hall at about 7 p.m. Thursday by grabbing a door as it closed behind a student that had just entered. The dormitory doors are usually secured and require a swipe card to open.

The attorneys said the investigators acted friendly toward the players and inquired who was at the party. The defense contends that police are trying to nail down a suspect after District Attorney Mike Nifong said this week that the woman positively identified one of her attackers from a photo lineup last week.

But attorneys also noted that three people at the party aren’t on the lacrosse team, and none of them have submitted DNA samples to authorities for testing.

Make of that what you will… but this is the first clear statement by anyone that non-players were at the party.