Tuesday, 18 April 2006

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.


Any views expressed in these comments are solely those of their authors; they do not reflect the views of the authors of Signifying Nothing, unless attributed to one of us.
[Permalink] 1. Inside info wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 1:25 pm CDT:

Seligmann has an atm receipt and an atm video that was 10 minutes away at the time of the rape. It makes sense at the defense was hammering that timeline for two weeks.

I thought at the very least Adam, Matt or Brett would be charged(as indicated per the smoking gun). This DA is about to be exposed and embarrassed.

[Permalink] 2. The Bombshell is coming tonight wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 1:57 pm CDT:

The Delbarton headmaster came out so strongly in defense of Seligmann because he had this info. You would have never have seen this unless Fr. LukeTravers was 100% sure that Seligmann had hard evidence to exonerate him.

This girl picked the wrong kid. She spun the roulette wheel and picked a kid with an alibi.

Nifong will be the laughingstock of the nation as soon as tonight.

[Permalink] 3. Skeptical-Hog wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 2:02 pm CDT:

Boy, that would be embarrassing if so… let’s see how this pans out. Perfectly possible that the dancer was in fact raped, only she may have id’ed the wrong guys because of voluntary or involuntary intoxication at the time of the rape… of course, if so, the truth will probably never come to light, since everyone will be quick to discount her credibility (which isn’t too high as it is, unfortunately, given her past conduct) and presume that if she’s made a false id, then no rape must have occurred. Also possible is that the dancer never was raped, but believes she was (drugged and delusional, perhaps?), and has falsely id’ed these guys. Or she’s lying. Or she’s right, and the “alibi” will turn out to be less than solid (i.e. ATM receipt an HOUR before rape, not during)... Or she’s id’ed one guy wrong, but is correct on the other… all sorts of possibilities swirl!

[Permalink] 4. Skeptical-Hog wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 2:11 pm CDT:

Re: “In her defense, I’m told all white people look alike…”

In all seriousness, cross-racial identifications turn out to be problematic… the syndrome “all X look alike” seems to be borne out when the ID’er is a “Y” (with “X” and “Y” filled in with whatever racial group you’d like to fill in…). Also, certainty of identification turns out not to be a reliable indicator of accuracy… that the alleged victim was 90% or 100% sure of the alleged rapist’s ID means very little (esp. because she was drunk or drugged during the alleged rape). Also, she’s seen these guy’s photos in the newspaper, and Finnerty’s been the subject of prior coverage from his DC arrest… even if the dancer is sincere in her ID, she may have been unknowingly influenced by media coverage. And the list goes on and on…

The long and short of it: these IDs are extremely problematic, and I’d not convict criminally if this is all the DA’s got. Which isn’t to say that rape didn’t occur, and that some of the Duke lax players aren’t covering up a violent felony—quite possible—but that I’m not at all confident that these two guys are the guilty parties. Again, we’ll see how this all pans out….

[Permalink] 5. Enough is enough wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 2:21 pm CDT:

All evidence that is out there screams that there wasn’t a rape. The only thing that has prevented me from 100% certainty was that I could not believe that Nifong would expose himself unless he had some smoking gun evidence.

If this ID turns out to be blatantly wrong people have to start firmly investigating the accuser and screaming Tawana Brawley Redux.

The whole media gave her the benefit of the doubt throughout the whole process. She absolutely has to nail these IDs or else she loses total credibility along with Nifong.

Seligmann has a monster lawsuit on his hand. He is the one with the alibi. I haven’t heard anything on Finnerty(although the case has to be dropped after Seligmann bombshell).


Since no one on the defense side knows what the DA will try to prove as to precise time or duration of the claimed rape, how can Seligmann’s attorney conclude that the ATM receipt and video were only ten minutes away in time from the claimed rape ?

Even if the time range of the alleged rape were known, can they be confident the time stamped on the receipt and video are accurate ?

[Permalink] 7. Time Stamped Pictures wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 2:34 pm CDT:

They were putting this out there to establish the timeline of the rape.

If this guy is an ATM machine ten minutes away during the 28 minute gap in the photos then I am going to make the leap that he didn’t do it. He also has eye witnesses, but the ATM is timestamped.

Seligmann didn’t know that he was one of the picked until late last night. Nifong wanted a surprise so he sealed the indictment. It exploded in his face as Seligmann had no chance to preempt the arrest with his overwhelming evidence.

Once again the Delbarton headmaster is a conservative priest safeguarding the reputation of an exclusive school. He is dead sure that Seligmann has the goods to prove his alibi as he came out very strongly in his favor.

[Permalink] 8. azbballfan wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 3:00 pm CDT:

Does the pre-trial release of evidence by the defense attorney constitute jury tampering or obstruction of justice?

I hope we get a court date soon and the defense team shuts up so this can all die down until the appropriate time.

[Permalink] 9. jersey wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 3:08 pm CDT:

The release will get the charges dropped. There is no way that Nifong will proceed when an alibi is presented. This kid also doesn’t want to face a Durham jury if doesn’t have to.

It is just unbelievable that the accuser struck out on her ID. The first bit of blind luck that went in the players way. There were about 20 players remaining in the house at the time of the rape. She basically had a 1/4 chance of getting both right.

[Permalink] 10. It's out wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 3:28 pm CDT:


This is a disgrace. This accuser should be thrown in jail immediately. How in the world does she have an ounce of credibility left?

Chris Lawrence did a brilliant job of providing fair analysis of this case.


Skeptical-Hog: Yes, I was being a little tongue-in-cheek there, but you’re right that cross-racial IDs are problematic—the face recognition “algorithm” in our brains seems to be tuned to recognizing people of our own race, probably because of very early socialization experiences.

[Permalink] 12. Skeptical-Hog wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 3:37 pm CDT:

Patience, patience… what at first is portrayed as a rock-solid alibi may turn out to have all sorts of holes. Naturally the defense puts the best spin on whatever they have—that’s their job—but to take assertions from either side at face value isn’t wise. These are advocates, after all, not unbiased reporters of truth. Very rarely are contested facts irrefutable or clear-cut, and what may seem solid may be proven hollow.

That said, it’s perfectly possible these ID’s are 100% wrong. But it’s a bit premature to call for heads when we don’t even know the substance of these alleged alibis… it could be that someone used an ATM ten minutes from the house 20 minutes before the rape…. if so, that in and of itself isn’t decisive.

But I’ll admit, unless there’s all sorts of other evidence in this case that hasn’t been made public, the reasonable doubt here is just palpable.


Seligmann may very well have a rock solid alibi, but we should not automatically draw that conclusion in part because Father Luke Travers said so. Father Travers is no doubt a person of impeccable moral authority but early on this case he was quoted in the New York Times saying that all of the Delbarton grads playing lacrosse at Duke were “wonderful boys from wonderful families. ” This was before Ryan McFadyen, another of his former students at Delbarton, sent out the e-mail to his buddies expressing a wish to kill “bitches” and then cut their skin off.

[Permalink] 14. No credibility wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 3:45 pm CDT:

Could at least one of the accusers claim be substantiated?

She claimed she was ganged raped in a 5 by 8 bathroom by three men and she scratched them to protect herself. No DNA was found despite her having a rape kit withing hours after the fabricated(moving from alleged) incident. the idiot DA skews his DNA statistics, but any expert will tell you that within a confined crime scene, with aggressive assualt and an early rape kit DNA should have been transferred.

She initially accused Matt, Adam and Brett. Does anyone remember this?

She announced her rape after being picked up by police in a Krogers lot.

No players have turned on each other. This is rare when so many people are involved.

To top it all off she ID’d someone(with 100% certainty) who wasn’t at the party during the time of the rape.

I don’t have reasonable doubt, I now have extreme doubt and am certain that the DA is prosecuting the wrong person


Let me put my board admin hat on for a second and ask something: could you stop changing “names” in this thread, please. Thanks…

[Permalink] 16. McFayden wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 3:51 pm CDT:

surely looks bad and will pay for his comment, but it was a direct quote from American Physcho(followed by a phil Collins reply). This movie is a bit obscure as it would have been much more tolerated if he said that she should have been “swimming with the fishes” or “take a trip to satrieles”.

This lacrosse team was reckless and probably needed some discipline. There is a monster difference between some needed team suspensions and 25 years in prison though.

[Permalink] 17. Aaron wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 3:54 pm CDT:

Is anyone else disgusted that Duke suspended McFayden simply for writing an asanine e-mail? To my knowledge, no recipient of the e-mail filed a complaint and no one can reasonably believe that the e-mail constituted a legitimate threat.

[Permalink] 18. Skeptical-Hog wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 4:16 pm CDT:

Aaron, the irony is that the guy’s suspended for writing a (deranged) email, while 2 guys actually charged with violent felonies seem to get more lenient treatment from Brodhead et al.

[Permalink] 19. azbballfan wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 4:18 pm CDT:

I’m very dissappointed by the administration’s handling of this matter. Singlng out Ryan for sending the e-mail is bad, but probably the only violation of student conduct code they could prove at the time. And they needed to look like they were doing something, which they’re not. The release of the e-mail added pressure on the school to cooperate with authorities.

At the end of the day, it’s pretty likely something torrid happened that night, and the kids and their attorneys aren’t cooperating. The kids involved are smartly avoiding charges that will stick at the ruin of all their reputations.

The President’s letter today was a travesty. It said nothing and just painted the school as supporting the atheletes in not cooperating with authorities.

The victim/accuser has had to move from her house. I would be suprised if the accused show themselved anywhere near campus.


Tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum have been suspended. But Larry Moneta can’t tell us that.

[Permalink] 21. LaxZebra wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 6:36 pm CDT:
Was there a "no"?

I’ve been immersed in this thing chasing every thread along the way and so far I have not seen anywhere that anyone has said that the victim had said “no” to her alleged attackers. Has anyone traced down whether that critical moment exists?

As for being beaten by three LAX players, that is a stretch isn’t it? I really can’t imagine three guys who together, beat a woman, especially these guys. If such a situation began with any one of them starting to beat a woman, I would be amazed if the other two wouldn’t jump in and do something to stop the offender.

My last comment is that the press and the minority folk really need to get a grip and quit pulling the race card out— it has lost its desired effect and quite possibly has alienated those who may need it the most.


The most compelling part about this case is that there is no gray area with regards to sex. The players said that absolutely no sexual contact took place while the accuser said that she was ganged rape. This isn’t a scenario where the players had sex and had gone too far.

I also found it very brazen of the players to deny that any sexual activity took place before the results of the DNA tests came back. They were very sure that there would be no DNA evidence.

Nifong and the accuser are staking lives on being correct in their indictments. If they are wrong(which would be apparent if Seligmann wasn’t even there) Nifong will be shamed as a lawyer and the accuser will set rape victims rights back 20 years.

[Permalink] 23. Helen wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 7:01 pm CDT:

I’ve wondered if the DA steered the accuser toward Finnerty, since he has a past which might simplify prosecution. I’m inclined to believe no rape occurred or someone would be talking, particularly after indictments of individuals who supposedly weren’t present.

Perhaps the woman was raped prior to the party, by parties other than Duke students. If she was in the shape that’s being reported, how would she identify anyone or testify to the “facts” of the case?

I think the DA is out of control and running hard for reelection. That’s the only reason I can see for the numerous times he has appeared in the news, discussing this case. He has said enitirely too much.

For these boys to be put through this, if innocent, and have their faces plastered everywhere is disgusting. They have now been suspended from school and face questionable futures. This will be something they will never live down – it will follow them forever. If innoocent, I hope they sue everyone involved, including the University. We live in a society that says, “innocent until proven guilty” but I don’t see much evidence of that in this case. Tarred and feathered is more like it.

[Permalink] 24. LaxZebra wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 8:15 pm CDT:

My gut feeling is that the next DA pleads the whole thing down to admissions of under age drinking, after a new DA is elected by a community that will be fed up with the notoriety.

Incumbent loses election badly because:

  • he can’t actually focus on re-election,

  • tactical moves by old money easily position challengers into the lead,

  • county can’t afford to finance this madness, so taxes may have to go up if it drags on and,

  • Duke remembers its roots and backs its LAX program. (I might be wrong now, but once this is over and Duke is in winning form again then I should be right.)

It’s important that the young woman has her day in court though, so she will re-appear and win a small victory in a civil case, have a made-for-tv movie and an autobiography written under a pseudonym. She can have all this, just by playing her cards right and leave the boys with a slap on the wrist.

Can’t the DA see this coming (or maybe he doesn’t have enough time to watch the Lifetime movie channel like I do)?

[Permalink] 25. Skeptical-Hog wrote @ Tue, 18 Apr 2006, 9:01 pm CDT:

LaxZebra, your predictions aren’t particularly, well, likely, IMHO. Odds are that (assuming no major upsets in the Duke case) Nifong wins the election (he’s got name recognition, now much more so than Freda Black [co-counsel in the Mike Peterson case]); Durham can and will continue to take this to trial (come on, it’s not THAT poor, and it’s not like this case is, say, a pharmaceutical class action or something in terms of complexity, and dealing with the media is cheap [though the cost of full-time distraction by the DA is significant, but see the Mike Peterson case]); and lacrosse will be seen again at Duke, in, oh, 2039 or so, when all this is ancient history. We’ll see on the civil case… too early to tell what the odds of winning are, since the facts are very much unclear here.


S-H: I think Nifong may be in more trouble than you think. People who had his signs out before around here in Trinity Park have been slowly, but surely, removing them from their yards, and he also faces a strong African-American challenger in Keith Bishop, who’s been hammering Nifong for moving too slowly in the case.

Realistically, I don’t see anyone getting the 40% needed to win the primary outright, and if it comes down to Bishop vs. Nifong in a runoff in late May I think the black vote, which has to be a majority of the Democratic primary electorate in Durham, will go with Bishop.

That doesn’t get Nifong out of office until January, mind you, although I expect he won’t stick around to the bitter end if his credibility is shot.


Incidentally, my thoughts on the future of lacrosse at Duke are here for new readers. I’ve got one word for it: bleak.

I expect also that once (when, not if) Alleva is forced out, the administration will probably follow Vanderbilt’s lead and put intercollegiate athletics under more direct supervision by the academic hierarchy.

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