Local News

Accuser In Duke Lacrosse Case Previously Reported Rape

Posted April 27, 2006
Updated January 7, 2007

— The woman who says she was raped by three members of Duke's lacrosse team also told police 10 years ago she was raped by three men, filing a 1996 complaint claiming she had been assaulted three years earlier when she was 14.

Authorities in nearby Creedmoor said Thursday that none of the men named in the decade-old report was ever charged but they didn't have details why.

A phone number for the accuser has been disconnected and her family declined to comment to The Associated Press. But relatives told Essence magazine in an online story this week that the woman declined to pursue the case out of fear for her safety.

The existence of the report surprised defense attorneys, one of whom has sought information about the accuser's past for use in attacking her credibility.

"That's the very first I've heard of that," said Bill Cotter, the attorney for indicted lacrosse player Collin Finnerty, who along with fellow Duke sophomore Reade Seligmann is charged with first-degree rape, kidnapping and sexual assault. He declined additional comment.

Attorneys for Seligmann asked the court this week to order the state to turn over the accuser's medical, legal and education records, and hold a pretrial hearing to "determine if the complaining witness is even credible enough to provide reliable testimony."

The accuser, a 27-year-old student at North Carolina Central University in Durham, told police she was hired to perform as a stripper at a March 13 party, where she was raped by three men.

According to the Creedmoor police report in August 1996, when the woman was 18, she told officers she was raped and beaten by three men "for a continual time" in 1993, when she was 14. She told police she was attacked at an "unspecified location" on a street in Creedmoor, a town 15 miles northeast of Durham.

The report lists the names of the three men, but no other details. Creedmoor police Chief Ted Pollard said Thursday he had no recollection of the report, and his staff has been unable to find any additional information about it.

Durham police Officer Brian Bishop, who interviewed the accuser in 1996 while working on the Creedmoor force, said Thursday he had a vague recollection of the report but couldn't remember any details.

When asked about the accuser's previous report of rape, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong declined to comment. He does hope to make another arrest, but he said he will not seek a third indictment in the week ahead.

Before Seligmann and Finnerty were indicted, attorneys for the players pointed to the accuser's criminal history when answering questions about their clients' legal troubles. The woman pleaded guilty to several misdemeanors in 2002.


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