DURHAM, N.C. – Three Duke lacrosse players took five to 10 minutes to sexually assault a woman hired to perform as a stripper at a team party, and not the 30 minutes she originally described to investigators, a prosecutor said Friday.
"When something happens to you that is really awful, it can seem like it takes place longer than it actually takes," District Attorney Mike Nifong said.
Nifong's comments came as Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III denied a defense request that prosecutors provide a detailed accounting of the alleged assault, including the exact time, place and type of sexual act the accuser said each defendant committed.
A grand jury has indicted three lacrosse players -- Reade Seligmann, 20; Collin Finnerty, 20; and David Evans, 23 -- on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual offense. The accuser, a student at nearby North Carolina Central University, told police she was raped in a bathroom by three men at a March 13 off-campus party. Defense attorneys have strongly proclaimed the players' innocence.
Kirk Osborn, who represents Seligmann, said the defense needed the "bill of particulars" because the accuser has told several different versions of the alleged assault, and his client has a right to know which version prosecutors will present at trial. In search and arrest warrants issued early in the investigation, police stated the accuser told investigators she was assaulted for 30 minutes.
Nifong said he is not required to state the exact time of the alleged attack, but offered that authorities believe it took place between 11:30 p.m. on March 13, when the accuser arrived at the party, and 12:55 a.m. on March 14, when police arrived and found no one at the house.
Friday's hearing was the first since Smith was appointed to take over the case.
Before the hearing began, Nifong gave defense lawyers 615 pages of evidence, a compact disc and a cassette tape. He said it included much of what was requested by defense lawyers, who had asked for handwritten notes from police officers involved with the case, reports outlining procedures used at the labs that tested the DNA of the players and notes from a mental health facility where police took the accuser after the party.
The defense has said those DNA tests failed to find a conclusive match between the three players and the accuser.
Defense attorneys also provided the judge with a description of the procedures used by a polling company they hired to survey Durham residents about the case. Nifong has asked the court to stop the polling, but the defense insists it is harmless.
"It's like taking a teaspoon and dipping it into the swimming pool. We just want to see what the teaspoon will reveal," said Wade Smith, an attorney for Finnerty.
The judge has not ruled on the issue.