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Piecing together what happened at the Duke lacrosse-team party
By now, a basic outline of the night is familiar.
A captain of the Duke lacrosse team called an escort service and placed an order for two strippers for a party at a house rented by three lacrosse captains. He used a fake name and gave a vast undercount of the number of partygoers. The women would dance for two hours and earn $400 each.
The dancers arrived at the house — owned by the university — between 11:30 and 11:45 p.m. March 13. Some of the men referred to one another by their jersey numbers. The dancers were given drinks, according to the second dancer, Kim Roberts. They danced briefly in the living room until the audience got too rowdy. The accuser would later tell police that a player held up a broomstick and threatened to "shove this up you."
The accuser said she was separated from Roberts and pulled inside a bathroom by two young men. She said she was held down by three young men for 30 minutes while she was raped and sodomized. After the assault, she said, $400 in $20 bills was taken from her purse.
The dancers left together, and Roberts drove to a grocery, where police were called. An officer described the woman as "passed-out drunk." She was taken to a substance-abuse center and then to Duke University Medical Center, where a doctor and nurse said her injuries and symptoms were consistent with vaginal and anal rape.
When Durham police searched the house two days later, they seized five red fingernails, a purse and a cellphone belonging to the accuser. They also took a bathroom rug, a monogrammed bathroom towel, digital cameras, several laptops, cellphones and other electronic devices. They found $160 in $20 bills.
The lacrosse-team captains denied that any assault had taken place. They volunteered to be interviewed at a police substation and then agreed to go to Duke hospital for tests. Days later, lacrosse players gave DNA samples. No matches were found.
A week later, police charged Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., and Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., with rape, kidnapping and a sexual offense.
Lawyers for several of the players — including some of the top criminal- defense lawyers in North Carolina — saw a district attorney up for re-election pushing a case with scant evidence. The defense said Durham police had violated their own policy by showing the accuser a photo lineup that included only lacrosse players and no fillers. Members of the defense team also had time-stamped photos from the party that they said contradicted the accuser's timeline of events, making her statement that she was assaulted for 30 minutes virtually impossible.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company