Local News

Transcript Suggests Alleged Rape Victim ID'd Four Duke Lacrosse Players

Posted May 11, 2006
Updated December 9, 2006

— A transcript of the photo lineup used to identify two Duke lacrosse players accused of raping and beating an exotic dancer suggests the accuser identified four possible attackers.

The dancer, a 27-year-old single mother and student at North Carolina Central University, says in the transcript that she is 100 percent certain that sophomores Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty assaulted her, but she is not completely sure about the other two players.

Seligmann, 20, and Finnerty, 19, were indicted on April 17 and charged with first-degree rape, first-degree sexual assault and first-degree kidnapping.

At one point during the identification process, the accuser says that she recognizes one of the people in the lineup, saying he looked like one of her attackers, but "I'm not sure," she says.

"For her to say, 'I'm not sure,' is very hurtful to the prosecution," said Wake County Chief Public Defender Bryan Collins, who is not connected in any way to the rape investigation. "It doesn't surprise me at all that (a third) person has not been charged."

A fourth photo in the lineup also catches the alleged victim's attention.

"He looks just like him without the mustache," she says, going on to say that she is only 90 percent certain.

Former prosecutor, now defense attorney, Hart Miles, who is also not connected in any way with the lacrosse rape investigation, said that 90 percent might not be beyond a reasonable doubt in the minds of jury members.

"Ninety percent is a lot, but can you be entirely convinced and fully satisfied that someone is guilty if all you have is that particular information?" Miles asked.

The accuser continues to say that she recognizes other men from the March 13 party, but does not identify any other men as her attackers. She also says that she does not recognize some of them.

A Duke University police report released on Tuesday, however, says that the woman initially claimed she was raped by 20 white men, but then said that three men attacked her. Durham City Manager Patrick Baker says the police report stemmed from what an officer overheard on the phone.

Attorneys not related to the case have said that all the inconsistencies about what the accuser has told police could hurt her credibility if the case goes to trial.

But Collins said that cases are not won solely on photo lineups, but that the woman's uncertainty is key for the defense.

"This is very important stuff," he said.

District Attorney Mike Nifong has said he has never doubted his evidence and expects one more player to be indicted as early as May 15.

"If you have other strong physical evidence, along with identifications that's not perfect, you can still get a conviction," Miles said.

Whether the jury will ever hear about the photo lineup is likely to be debated during a trial, which Nifong has said could be sometime next spring.

Attorneys have told WRAL that a lot of time passed from when the photo lineup was conducted and when the alleged victim says she was raped: three weeks. They also believe some questions about strangulation in the lineup were leading.

Kirk Osborn, a defense attorneys representing Seligmann, has also said that the lineup should be suppressed if the case goes to trial, calling it a "multiple-choice test with no wrong answers."

Osborn, in a motion filed on May 1, claims that Nifong encouraged Durham police to violate departmental policy regarding photo lineups.

At the district attorney's direction, the accuser was shown only pictures of the 46 lacrosse players, with no unrelated pictures added to the lineup, which Osborn called "unnecessarily suggestive and conducive to irreparable mistake and misidentification."

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