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Waiting Part of a 'Horrific' Year for Duke Lacrosse Father

Posted April 10, 2007

— In the year since his son became one of three Duke University lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting a stripper, Kevin Finnerty says it hasn't gotten any easier for his family to trudge through each day.

They know Collin Finnerty could face a long prison sentence if convicted -- a prospect they consider unthinkable. But there is little they can do now but wait for state prosecutors, who took over the case earlier this year from Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, to decide whether to drop the charges or bring their 20-year-old son and his teammates to trial.

"We've never been through anything like this," Kevin Finnerty said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from his home in Garden City, N.Y. "This is our son's life at stake, and it's just not over until it's over. I would say that we know that we have the truth on our side and from the outset we've felt the truth will prevail.

"In some ways, I'd say Collin is a much better man than I could ever hope to be," Finnerty said.

Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans were indicted on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual offense last spring after a woman told police she was assaulted at a March 2006 team party where she was hired to perform as a stripper. All three have steadfastly maintained their innocence, with Evans calling the allegations "fantastic lies."

Nifong dropped rape charges in December after the accuser changed a key detail in her story, and recused himself a few weeks later after the state bar charged with several ethics violations tied to his handling of the case. If convicted, Nifong could be disbarred.

That put the players' fate in the hands of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper. Though many legal experts have called the case unwinnable, the players face more than 30 years in prison if convicted on the remaining charges.
While Evans graduated the day before he was indicted in May, Duke temporarily suspended sophomores Finnerty and Seligmann in the wake of their arrest. Finnerty was also convicted in July in an unrelated assault case in Washington, D.C., and sentenced to six months of probation.

It's all part of what Kevin Finnerty described as "a horrific year."

"The waiting process is wearing us down emotionally," he said. "We take comfort in the fact that these prosecutors are searching for the truth. And that's different from how we felt before their involvement."

In the past year, Finnerty has worked as a volunteer with children who lost family in the terrorist attacks of September 11 while also taking courses at Hofstra University. He is currently working as a volunteer assistant lacrosse coach at his alma mater, Chaminade High School.

Should the charges be dropped, Finnerty's educational future is uncertain. Although Duke has invited both Finnerty and Seligmann to return to campus, neither has accepted the offer.

John Danowski, the former coach at Hofstra who took over the Duke program last summer, also has said often that both Finnerty and Seligmann are welcome to continue their lacrosse careers with the Blue Devils.

Several other coaches have contacted Finnerty about playing at their schools, Kevin Finnerty said, adding the odds were "low" that his son would return to Duke. But, he said, that decision would be left up to his son.

"I think if Mike Nifong were still the acting district attorney, it would be a very easy decision for Collin not to return," he said.

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  • mrichmond13 Apr 11, 11:21 a.m.

    The father is the root of the problem. This is the same kid who berated a bar patron in D.C., calling him 'faggot' and following out the bar, threating to kick his ass. I'm glad his father is proud of him. How getting this trash out of N.C., please....

  • Builder03 Apr 10, 8:08 p.m.

    If the charges are dismissed, then the county needs to step up and pay the attorney fees for each of these boys. It is their employee; Mike Nifong who has caused them to have to hire lawyers. Then the county needs to turn around and sue Mike Nifong for that money....or better still, sue Nifong for false arrest. Too bad they don't tar and feather anymore.

  • prhodes10 Apr 10, 6:01 p.m.

    Durham is one place where you are guilty till you prove yourself innocence.Then you get to take a plea deal guilty are not.

  • goheels Apr 10, 5:48 p.m.

    SRSD....pay better attention please.
    Getting drunk is not against the law, even shouting racial slurs (while I do not think it should have been done)is not against the law. And how do you degrade a stripper??? LOL...hasn't a stripper already degraded herself enough in that she chose to take her clothes off and dance suggestively for money in front of a group of drunk men??? Did you see the other stripper backing up the so called "victims'" story? NO.....and she never took out any charges of communicating threats herself either. While none of us was there, I truly think this has been about money from the start as the victim thought she could make some extra bucks out of this from the start. She had sex that night, but not with these men, and definetly with several other men as the DNA proves! She ruined their lives and all they did was chip in their money to pay the two girls and probably run their mouths when the dancing ceased as the girls did not complete the paid performance!

  • spiritwarriorwoman Apr 10, 5:05 p.m.

    AMEN!!! The names of these young men should never have been released to the public with evidence as scanty as that woman's attire. This is something they will carry for most of the rest of their lives, and it was so unnecessary.

    Praying for them.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • meg Apr 10, 4:51 p.m.

    RpdWife05-I agree with you. If I was them and their parents I would sue the girl for defamation of character and I would make her pay all my lawyers bills. Even though I don't think she could afford it for all three of these boys she some how needs to be punished for all that she has done.

  • meg Apr 10, 4:47 p.m.

    wow I can see some of you are like Nacey Grace convicting the innocent before they are even tried. Haven't you heard innocent until proven guilty. I have felt from day one these guys are innocent...the girl has changed her story so many times and look at her profession. It doesn't matter now if these boys are found innocent because a ton have people have already convicted them and labeled them for life....do ya'll sleep good at night knowing you ruined three young mens life?!?!?

  • rpdwife05 Apr 10, 4:38 p.m.

    FYI: SRSD, rape charges have allready been dropped for all three. Now there is just wrongful imprisonment and assault. The court deemed that no rape occured.

  • rpdwife05 Apr 10, 4:36 p.m.

    koolmod, they are victims. Victims of this "rape victim's" false claims. These boys will forever be known as the duke lacross rapist, guilty or not. Their families and thier reputations are forever ruined because of this woman, and Nifong. What if they wanted to be president one day. I highly doubt thats possible now because of these false claims. I honestly feel bad for them. She should be punished to the fullest extent of the law as well as tried civily. These boys have had to spend thousands of dollars in lawyers fees on something that should have ended months ago.

  • mellowed Apr 10, 4:27 p.m.

    "In some ways, I'd say Collin is a much better man than I could ever hope to be," Finnerty said. Really dad? Your son beats up homosexuals for fun. What do you do--throw in a few extra punches for their friends and families?

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