Local News

D.C. Assault Trial Begins For Duke Rape Suspect

Posted July 10, 2006 8:57 a.m. EDT

— An assault trial began Monday in a Washington, D.C., courtroom for one of three Duke University lacrosse players accused of raping an exotic dancer.

Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., along with two of his high-school friends, is accused of punching a man last November after calling him gay and yelling derogatory remarks at him.

Two alleged victims testified on Monday that the attack on them was unprovoked. Defense attorneys, however, have said Finnerty is the one who was attacked.

The trial is expected to continue to at least Tuesday.

Finnerty, who had a plea deal in the assault case until the Duke rape allegations surfaced in March, last appeared in the D.C. court in April. During that appearance his attorney, Steve McCool, asked the case to be postponed pending the rape investigation. The judge, however, refused.

"This incident has been grossly mischaracterized," McCool told news reporters after the April 25 hearing.

If convicted of simple assault, Finnerty could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Earlier this year, Finnerty, along with Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., and David Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md., was indicted on charges of first-degree rape, assault and kidnapping after a woman told Durham police she was gang-raped and beaten at a lacrosse party on March 13. All three are out of jail under a $100,000 bond.

Their attorneys, who have strongly proclaimed their clients' innocence, are scheduled to appear on behalf of the three men on July 17. The hearing will be the "second setting" for all three suspects, which is the deadline for filing pretrial motions not dealing with the suppression of evidence.

A trial is not expected to begin before spring 2007.