Judge Rules Duke Lacrosse Player Violated Terms Of D.C. Diversion Program
Posted April 25, 2006 2:27 a.m. EDT
Updated January 7, 2007 12:50 p.m. EST
Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., appeared in D.C. Superior Court on Tuesday for a hearing in which a judge determined that he violated the conditions of a diversion program he entered after being charged in a Georgetown assault.
Finnerty and two other high school men are accused of punching Jeffrey O. Bloxgom in the face and body after he told them to "stop calling him gay and other derogatory names," last November, according to court documents.
Under the terms of the diversion program, the charges would have been dismissed after Finnerty completed 25 hours of community service. But the agreement called for Finnerty to refrain from committing any criminal offense.
Finnerty remains free pending a July 10 trial date. He could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted of simple assault.
"We look forward to presenting the facts," attorney Steven J. McCool, who is representing Finnerty in the Georgetown case, said in a brief statement outside the courthouse. "This incident has been grossly mischaracterized."
McCool brought up issues of due process during the hearings, saying he thought it would be prejudicial to try the case before the Duke rape case moved forward. He wanted to move the trial date to August.
In addition to the new trial dates, the Washington D.C. judge also set new restrictions for Finnerty and the other suspects. Under some of those restrictions, they must follow a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, stay at least 50 feet from Bloxgom and refrain from going any place where alcohol is sold, served or consumed.
Finnerty showed no emotion during Tuesday's hearing. The only thing he said in court was, "Yes, sir," in response to the judge asking if he understood the conditions of his orders. A family priest stood a few feet behind him in the courtroom.
Authorities believe Finnerty and Duke teammate Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., were two of the three white men who a 27-year-old black woman says raped her in a bathroom of a house March 14 during an off-campus party. They were indicted on rape charges last week.
Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong has said he expects to charge a third person in connection with the case, but said Tuesday that he has no plans to present charges in the case to a grand jury at his next opportunity on Monday -- the day he stands for election in the May 2 Democratic primary.
"Even I would think that would look political," said Nifong, who was appointed district attorney last year.
A handful of other Duke lacrosse players facing deferred prosecution -- all for misdemeanor violations in Durham -- may see the charges against them reinstated.
So far, Nifong said, that has happened only to David Evans, a team captain who lived at the house where the party was held. But the prosecutor is looking at other cases involving deferred prosecution.
Evans, 22, was cited in separate incidents for a noise ordinance violation and alcohol possession. Nifong said he reinstated the charges because Evans knew there would be underage drinkers at the party.
"For a long time, we have treated deferred prosecution as a right," Nifong said. "It is a privilege."
In a sign that the defense plans to attack the woman's credibility, Seligmann's attorney, Kirk Osborn, demanded Monday that prosecutors turn over the accuser's medical, legal and education records. The woman is a single mother and student at nearby North Carolina Central University.
"This request is based on the fact that the complaining witness has a history of criminal activity and behavior, which includes alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and dishonesty, all conduct which indicate mental, emotional and/or physical problems, which affect her credibility as a witness," the defense said in court papers.
Nifong has declined to comment about the request.