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Judge Orders Reduction In Duke Lacrosse Player's Bond

Posted June 22, 2006
Updated January 7, 2007

— A judge reduced the bond of a Duke University lacrosse player charged with rape to $100,000 at a Thursday hearing, during which defense attorneys again pressed for access to evidence in the case.

The family of sophomore lacrosse player Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., had posted a $400,000 bond after their son was charged in April with rape, kidnapping and sexual offense.

The two other players facing the same charges -- Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., and David Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md. -- remain free on $400,000 bond.

A trial isn't expected to begin before spring 2007 in the case, which began when an exotic dancer told police she was raped by three men at a March 13 team party.

During Thursday's hearing, District Attorney Mike Nifong said he had provided defense attorneys with an additional 536 pages of evidence. The prosecutor went through several defense motions seeking additional information filed prior to the hearing, and in most cases said the requests had been satisfied.

"Frankly, for a case of this nature, with the voluminous amount of information that's been provided, there appears to have been at least a good faith effort" to fulfill the defense requests, said Judge Ronald L. Stephens.

Defense attorneys now have about 1,800 pages of documents, including police reports, investigators' notes and lineup reports -- all of which they have said contains nothing that will hurt their case.

Attorney Joe Cheshire, who represents Evans, said it also shows that the accuser changed her story many times in the hours after the alleged attack.

"She said, at one point, that she was raped by five people," Cheshire said. "So, we now have another number. You know, we have three, we got none, we got five, we got three, we got five, we got 20. I mean, pick a number."

One document missing was toxicology reports. Nifong told the court he didn't have a toxicology report to turn over, although he later refused to say if such a test was performed. Defense attorneys said later they don't believe one was.

"I thought when you went, and somebody looked like they were drunk or on drugs or something that somebody would do toxicology," Cheshire said. "I mean, I'm just surprised they didn't, that's all."

One of the first police officers to encounter the accuser described her as "just passed-out drunk," and the defense has suggested she arrived at the party impaired. There has also been speculation that perhaps a date-rape drug was used.

Among the items Nifong has yet to turn over is an analysis of the accuser's computer, which he said was still pending, and records from the mental health facility where authorities took the woman before she told police she had been raped. The only record from the facility, Nifong said, is a single page from a log book he is still working to obtain.

"Everything I have received I have turned over," Nifong said. "I expect to have more stuff next time, and expect this is the type of case where new stuff is coming up until the time it is tried."

At the request of Seligmann's attorney, Kirk Osborn, Stephens ordered Nifong to turn over to a judge for review the accuser's hospital records from June 1993, when she said she was raped in nearby Creedmoor. The woman didn't file a police report until three years later and no charges were ever brought. Nifong told Stephens he's not sure if such records even exist.

Nifong, who has come under criticism for speaking publicly about the investigation and recently the focus of a Newsweek article that claims he sent a reporter an angry e-mail, has remained publicly confident about the case and seemed equally confident in court on Thursday during a brief exchange of words with Cheshire.

"And people who don't do a lot of rape cases, probably don't know that," Nifong said at one point, to which Cheshire shot back, "Amazingly enough, I have tried a few rape cases in my 33 years."

None of the players were in court Thursday. Stephens set their next appearance for the week of July 17.
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