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.