Defending Duke Accuser

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 24, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The woman at the center of the Duke rape allegations had a brush with the law herself in 2002 when she pleaded guilty to four misdemeanors related to a DUI car chase. On that night, after stealing a taxi, she led police on a high-speed chase, eventually slamming the stolen vehicle into a police deputy's car. Her blood-alcohol level, at that time, was .19.

So does this past incident tell us anything about her credibility now? We continue now with FOX's Megyn Kendall. She's in Durham tonight. Also joining us there is the attorney who represented the accuser in that DWI case, Woody Vann. And here with us also, defense attorney Anne Bremner and FOX news legal analyst Lis Wiehl is with us.

All right, Mr. Vann, let me start with you. First of all, that's two times the legal limit. It's a very high level of alcohol use. Do you think it's unfair — certainly somebody who can have a record, somebody who is drinking heavily, somebody who is a stripper can still be raped. I don't think anybody is going to doubt that.

But if it comes down to "he said-she said" at the end of the day, do past incidents like that impact — should it impact the mind of a juror?

WOODY VANN, FMR. ATTORNEY FOR ACCUSER: Well, it will definitely affect their being able to analyze the credibility of the witness, just in any situation like that. But they would have to take that in the context of what happened that evening, and then what happened after that evening, in regard to what she did to make up for the crimes that she had committed that night.

HANNITY: Try and bring us — give us some insight into what you think about this woman. Obviously, you represented her, so you can't share, you know, personal information.

But when's the last time you've had contact with her? Do you tend to believe her story here? Do you have any problems with the time line or any of the other information that's come out here before?

VANN: Well, I haven't had a great deal of contact with her since these cases back in 2002. I did a little work for her in the summer of '05, but that was just a traffic ticket. And then I talked with her about three weeks ago.

My opinion of her is she is, she is — was credible when I dealt with her. She was believable. She's very straightforward. I found her to be, you know, to be as good a client as I could have, considering the situation.

In that particular case — again, any time I needed something from her, she produced it, she delivered, she brought forth the information that supported what I needed to know to help her in that case.

HANNITY: But you would admit that any discerning individual, with what we know now — granted, we might find out new information about this case — but we have a neighbor that identifies they arrive about midnight, they leave the house a very short time thereafter.

There's this little window where we discover, for example, a discrepancy. We know that Reade Seligmann was calling his girlfriend, called a cab at 12:14. The cab arrives at 12:19. He's at an ATM at 12:24, and he's back in the dorm at 12:41. Do you see problems with the time line, sir?

VANN: Well, I do see problems with it, but what we don't know yet is what is her actual, detailed statement that she gave to the officer or to the attending...

HANNITY: She said a rape went on for 30 minutes and she identified these two men 100 percent.

VANN: Well, that's not what she said that night. I think the identification came later, but, you know, but we don't — when does she say 30 minutes? Is it exactly 30 minutes? Could it be 20 minutes? So there is a lot of question about the time line, but...


ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: But also — let me get Anne Bremner in here. And, counselor, welcome.


VANN: We just don't know.

COLMES: Let me go to Anne Bremner and get Anne in here. We also have information that it might have been a third party involved, there could be other parties here. For all we know, the digital camera could have had the time off on it. We don't know that there wasn't windows of opportunity for people involved.

So there are all kinds of mitigating circumstances, plus the D.A. now suggesting to Newsweek that there might have been a date rape drug involved. There's a lot going on here that we just don't know about.

ANNE BREMNER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: There is. Well, but, you know, this case, it's sex, it's time lines, it's the pictures, it's Duke, it's pride, prejudice, you know, race, privilege, and the media, and the society.

But what we have here is a time line where at least one that she identified is exculpated. And, in fact, two have alibis. She's injured before any of this happens. It's in the pictures. She's smiling afterwards.

And you have an eyewitness that was with her who said, "I don't think it happened," and this is a woman who now changes her mind and says, well, now I want a P.R. firm to spin this in a way I can make money, and then she's also saying she also has a conviction herself for extortion of $25,000.

So there's a lot here we don't know about, but what we do know about right now, it doesn't look pretty for the prosecution.

COLMES: How credible a witness is this second dancer, Lis, in that she went to a New York P.R. firm...


COLMES: ... there's some criminal history there?

WIEHL: That's not good, but she wasn't there in the bathroom and never said that she was. If a rape took place, it took place in a very private place. None of us were there; she wasn't there. And it's consistent with her saying she arrived and the woman was fine, she left and she wasn't, for a date rape drug.

COLMES: My concern, Anne Bremner, is that they're going back to criminal histories, and things that may have nothing to do with this case, as if to imply that somehow that might mitigate against whether she was actually raped or not, when in no way does it or should it, and might prevent other women in the future who might be criminal assaulted from coming forward. And that troubles me that this is a tactic being used by the defense attorneys.

BREMNER: Well, here is the problem here: There is this dogmatic approach which is a victim is a victim is a victim. You have to look at every single case on its merits.

And if, in fact, someone has a criminal history that shows they shouldn't be believed, the jury is entitled to know that. And it doesn't mean it's going to wreck every criminal prosecution out there, but, in fact, there are real doubts in this case. And a prosecutor may well have done — basically shot first and then asked questions later, in terms of asking for an indictment, and that's not responsible.

COLMES: And I know Lis wants to get in. I want to get to Megyn Kendall here, though, for a second, and just what I want to further discuss the issue of what the parameters here of what attorneys can or cannot say? What's appropriate? What's not appropriate? Has everything been done appropriately here?

KENDALL: Well, I'm certainly not going to sign off on that. I would have to take a hard look at the rules of ethics in North Carolina.

But, no, I mean, the prosecutors down here and, actually, defense lawyers will tell you, too, Nifong's statements to the media were highly unusual, the more than 70 interviews before he clammed up, highly unusual.

It may, some speculate, be a function of his inexperience in this particular role, which he's only a year. Five years prior to this — four of the five years prior to this, they were telling me, he was pushing mostly traffic cases. Having said that, he has handled major felonies in the past.

But unethical? No. On the defense side, going after the victim or the alleged victim is what defense lawyers do. It's why the criminal process is so highly unpleasant for alleged victims. If this woman was, in fact, raped and she withstands that and decides to take the stand anyway, good for her.

HANNITY: It might be innocent people accused. We just don't know at this point. We'll have more with our panel, coming up right after the break tonight.


COLMES: And we're back on "Hannity & Colmes." We now continue talking about the latest in the Duke rape investigation with FOX's own Megyn Kendall, the former attorney of the accuser, Woody Vann, defense attorney Anne Bremner, and FOX News legal analyst Lis Wiehl.

Now, Lis, let's talk about some of the convictions we've talked about that are being floated here, in terms of what these women were accused of in the past. How relevant is that?

WIEHL: Not at all. What is the relevancy that one of the women, the alleged victim, had a joy-riding conviction? What I would ask Anne Bremner is, Anne, was she convicted of perjury? Are we talking about — you talk about credibility. No one has said this woman has a conviction for lying before. How is this relevant?

BREMNER: Well, and, Lis, the thing is, if you look at honesty, dishonesty, or false statement, under evidence Rule 609, as you know. So you've got some issues there.

But what about this: What about if she says, "OK, I had a date rape drug. I haven't been drunk. I'm not a drinker." Then this can come in on a collateral issue, potentially, with respect to her sobriety or claims or assertions she makes in this case. So we don't know yet; we don't know what she's saying.

COLMES: Let me go to Mr. Vann here once again. And Sean started to talk to you about this. I'd like to pick up on it.

Is there anything you would say about her character, the person you knew, that would comport with these accusations? Is she someone who would be likely to make something like this up?

VANN: In my involvement with her, no. That was what I was so surprised, when the time I did talk to her or call from her, I thought it was just to check on a certain matter or ask me to help her with something. I didn't know it was going to be this.

So I was quite surprised, because I knew her to be, again, a very kind of straightforward, very believable, very credible person who had, again, done everything I'd asked in the previous matter and resolved it, so I was quite shocked.

COLMES: Megyn, we've heard that there are comments made to this woman that were racist in nature, things like, "Thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt." They waved, according to reports, a broom handle and yelled out, "use this," which gave her a reason to be concerned, which is why they supposedly left the first time. Is that relevant to this case?

KENDALL: Well, it's relevant to show that the Duke lacrosse players in that house that night weren't necessarily the choir boys that their advocates here on the Duke campus would have you believe.

But, you know, both sides are doing that. I have spoken with the family members of the alleged victim, and they would have you believe that this woman has never had a cocktail in her life, that she's completely above-board. You know, they noticeably omit any reference to her prior arrests or DWI, and so on, so — I mean, both sides are going to try to sling the mud. And there's a little bit — as with any case, the truth lies someplace in the middle, probably.

HANNITY: Megyn, I want to go back to what we started this program with tonight, and that is you spoke with the accuser's father. Now, I think everybody on this panel is going to agree, if she's not testifying, this case is over. Any more insight into that interview with the father?

KENDALL: Yes, it was actually very interesting, Sean. You won't be surprised to hear that he believes his daughter, that — he did say: Listen, I can back up the fact that she was bruised, and swollen, and appeared to be badly beaten the very day after this alleged attack, and that she looked fine the day before, thereby perhaps undermining the theory that the day before, at least during the day, she was injured. But she did say...

HANNITY: But are their time-stamped photos showing the injuries? That's going to be key here.

KENDALL: Yes, there absolutely are. The other thing, Sean, is that, you know, she left that party with the second dancer around 1:00 a.m. They didn't show up at that grocery store until 1:22. That leaves the defense a lot of room to argue: What happened in those 22 minutes?

HANNITY: All right. Let me ask Lis Wiehl here. Now, this other women, Kim Roberts, who wrote to the P.R. firm, also was on probation for embezzling $25,000 from a company she worked for. She had been arrested for violating her parole. She posted bond. Now, this guy, Mark Simeon, has political connections to the prosecutor and he just got an easy ride on that. Should that concern people that...

WIEHL: That could be all be very interesting, if she were coming forward and saying, "I saw the rape." But she didn't do that, did she? She didn't do that.

HANNITY: But now she's saying — she denied believing her. Now she believes her.

WIEHL: Beliefs can change, but the point is she's not going to able to take the stand and say, "I saw the rape"...

HANNITY: But her credibility is impeached by that e-mail to the P.R. company.

WIEHL: Sean, I agree, but who cares? She didn't see it. Her relevant testimony is: She arrived. Her friend and her arrived, and the friend was in a certain state, and a different state when she left. That's what's critical.

COLMES: We've got to run. We thank you. We thank Anne. We thank Woody. And we thank Megyn Kendall.

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