Published May 16, 2006
DURHAM, N.C. – Attorneys for indicted Duke University lacrosse player Reade Seligmann filed a petition Tuesday to gain access to the cell phone and cell-phone records of a 27-year-old exotic dancer who has accused three team members of rape.
Seligmann of Essex Fells, N.J., along with fellow sophomore and teammate Collin Finnerty of Garden City, N.Y., were charged on April 17 with rape, kidnapping and sexual assault in connection with the alleged attack.
Seligmann is due back in court on Thursday, while Finnerty's next court appearance isn't until mid-June. Seligmann's lawyers want a judge to hold hearings Thursday on whether to force police and prosecutors to turn over the evidence they've compiled, the Durham Herald-Sun reported Tuesday.
A quick hearing is necessary because there's a risk that evidence that could exonerate Seligmann "will spoil if not preserved properly," lawyers Kirk Osborn and Ernest Conner said. They said Durham officials may be putting pressure on investigators.
On Monday, prosecutors indicted a third player, 23-year-old senior David Evans, on similar charges. After turning himself in and posting a $400,000 bond, Evans told reporters he is "absolutely innocent" of all charges and that the allegations against him "are lies, fabricated ... and they will be proven wrong."
Accompanied by his lawyers, family members and seniors from the men's lacrosse team, Evans called the charges against him and two other indicted teammates "fantastic lies."
Evans faces first-degree charges of forcible rape, sexual offense and kidnapping. He waived his right to a court appearance on Tuesday.
Evans, a team co-captain, is one of three lacrosse players who lived at the house at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., where the alleged rape took place.
A black female stripper has accused three white lacrosse players of raping and assaulting her on the night of March 13 at an off-campus house party at which she was hired to perform. The accuser, who attends North Carolina Central University, claims she was attacked for at least a half hour in the bathroom and that she used her fingernails to help fend off her attackers.
Evans said Monday that he and his roommates helped police search for evidence after the alleged incident was reported. He also answered questions and gave a statement to police without a lawyer present "because I knew I had done nothing wrong."
He also said he used photos to point out to police which lacrosse players were at the party the night of March 13, voluntarily turned over DNA samples, e-mail and other electronic messages, and asked to take a polygraph test — which he said was refused by the Durham police.
Evans said that for weeks he has been trying to contact District Attorney Mike Nifong, who is prosecuting the case. Defense lawyers have complained that Nifong was not accepting evidence that may prove their clients innocent.
"All of my attempts have been denied. I've tried to provide him with exculpatory evidence to show him this could not have happened," Evans said, adding, "apparently, there's a lack of interest in my story — the true story."
Evans said he finally got a former FBI polygraph expert to give him a polygraph test.
"I passed that polygraph for the same reason I will be acquitted of all these charges," Evans said. "I have done nothing wrong and I have told the truth, I have told the truth from Day One … I have the truth behind me and it will not phase me."
He added: "I am innocent, Reade Seligmann is innocent, Collin Finnerty is innocent, every member of the Duke lacrosse team is innocent. You have all been told fantastic lies … the truth will come out."
Nifong said he did not expect any more indictments in the case, saying the three players facing charges were the only ones implicated by the evidence.
"At the outset of this investigation, I said it was just as important to remove the cloud of suspicion from the members of the Duke University lacrosse team who were not involved in this assault as it was to identify the actual perpetrators," Nifong said. "For that reason, I believe it is important to state publicly today that none of the evidence that we have developed implicated any member of that team other than those three against who indictments have been returned."
Defense: Prosecutor Refuses to Hear Our Evidence
Evan's attorney, Joseph Cheshire, said the defense will provide evidence from "many credible" people who can account for the whereabouts' of Evans, Seligmann and Finnerty and will prove "that this rape not only did not happen but it could not have happened." But he said Nifong has "simply refused" to listen to any defense evidence.
Nifong has said little about the case in public, and defense attorneys have previously complained that Nifong has refused to meet or communicate with them.
"I've never in my entire life had a prosecutor refuse to see any evidence ... when your ears are shut and your eyes are close and your mouth is open, sometimes you don't want to see the truth," Cheshire said, adding that he believes Nifong's persistence in pursuing this case is purely for political reasons.
"This community has been torn apart intentionally on racial lines, on political lines and these boys have been chopped up in the process. They are victims, their families are victims. This community is a victim and our justice system is a victim. And these boys not only will prove that they are not guilty but they will prove unquestionably that they are innocent," he continued.
Evans' DNA apparently was found on one of the fake fingernails retrieved from the bathroom of the house in which the alleged attack took place. Defense attorneys have stressed that the DNA results do not conclusively match that of any member of the team and that the lineup in which Evans was identified with "90 percent" certainty was flawed.
Cheshire said that during the lineup, the accuser told police she would be 100 percent sure of the identification if Evans had a mustache — something he said his client has never had.
Evans is from Bethesda, Md., and went to high school at the Landon School. His father is a Washington lawyer and his mother is a lobbyist. He graduated Sunday with a bachelor of arts degree.
FOX News' Megyn Kendall, Liza Porteus, Marianne Silber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.