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Defense Files Motion Seeking Prosecution To Reveal Case Details

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DURHAM, N.C. — Lawyers for one of three Duke University men's lacrosse players charged with rape want District Attorney Mike Nifong to detail his case, saying in a motion Monday they need the information to prepare their defense.'

Lawyers for Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., seek a "bill of particulars" that would detail information prosecutors used as the basis for charging their client with rape, sexual offense and kidnapping in April. Among the 22 pieces of information requested are the exact time and place where the alleged assault took place.

The motion, filed by defense lawyers Kirk Osborn and Ernest Conner, said Seligmann has provided a "complete alibi" that clears him of any suspicion. It also argues that the accuser has changed her story several times and says the defense needs to know "which story is going to be presented as the 'true story.'"

"It is essential for Reade Seligmann to have a forecast of exactly which of the many stories Mr. Nifong ... will use in his attempt to falsely prosecute the defendant," the motion said.

Nifong's office said he would not comment Monday.

The case began when the accuser told police she was raped by three men at a March 13 team party where she had been hired to perform as an exotic dancer. One month later, a grand jury indicted Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., on identical charges. A third player, team co-captain David Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md., was indicted in May.

All three are free on bond and have strongly proclaimed their innocence, either in person or through their lawyers.

A trial isn't expected to begin before spring 2007.

Stan Goldman, a Loyola Law School professor and former Los Angeles County public defender, said the defense motion is a bit of "posturing," but said a bill of particulars can be useful in preparing a defense.

"There may be something quite legitimate in the things the defense is asking for, but there's no question some of the statements are there for public consumption," Goldman said. "The court's not going to be persuaded that they really don't have enough to pursue the case. If that were true, there would be a motion to dismiss the case.

"It sounds like some of it is written with legitimacy and some of it is written just for public relations."

Evans is due in court on Tuesday for violating a noise ordinance. Nifong had the charge reinstated after news of the lacrosse party and underaged drinking surfaced.

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