Local News

Officer's Eavesdropping May Be Basis Of Duke Police Report

Posted May 10, 2006
Updated December 9, 2006

— Durham's city manager says a Duke police report that downplayed the lacrosse gang-rape allegations stemmed from what an officer overheard on the phone.

Duke Police Officer Christopher Day filed the report, saying Durham police charges would not exceed misdemeanor status in the rape allegations, made by a 27-year-old woman who said she was attacked by three members of the Duke lacrosse team at an off-campus party in March.

The police report said the alleged victim changed her story several times and saod she told Durham police the attack involved 20 men.

City Manager Patrick Baker said Day based his report on a phone conversation he overheard being made by a Durham police sergeant.

"That they put that (report) on the Web site suggests that this officer is the source of the information, I'm telling you that the officer got the information by overhearing the conversation, not even a direct conversation with any of our police officers," Baker said.

Baker said Day did not actually talk to the alleged victim in the case. He and Durham Mayor Bill Bell have asked Police Chief Steve Chalmers to investigate and determine exactly what was said and by whom.

Baker said he does not want any kind of rift between the university police department and the city police department. He said he wants it to be known that Durham police is treating the case very seriously.

So far, two men have been charged in connection with the allegations: Reade Seligmann, 20, and Collin Finnerty. Both men, sophomore lacrosse players, were indicted last month on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual assault.

Defense attorneys for Finnerty say that if the information is true, it only bolsters their defense.

"One would think that a person's impression near the moment when it happened would be more valuable than that person's impressions a year later or six months later," attorney Wade Smith said.

Both Seligmann and Finnerty were expected to make their next appearance in Durham County Superior Court next Thursday, but Superiour Court Judge Ronald L. Stephens moved Finnerty's hearing to mid-June because District Attorney Mike Nifong won't be able to complete evidence discovery by next week.

Seligmann's attorney said his client still has a court date next week.
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