Duke Lacrosse Rape Suspect Convicted In D.C. Assault Case
Posted July 11, 2006 10:05 a.m. EDT
Updated January 7, 2007 12:01 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON — One of the three Duke University lacrosse players accused of raping a woman at a team party in March was convicted in an unrelated assault that occurred last year in Georgetown.
Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y. was convicted of misdemeanor assault and sentenced to six months of probation in connection with an attack on two bar patrons in the early-morning hours of Nov. 5.
The maximum jail term on the misdemeanor conviction was six months in jail. Prosecutors did not ask the judge to impose jail time.
Superior Court Judge John Bayly also ordered Finnerty to undergo drug and alcohol counseling if required by probation officers. He must also stay out of Georgetown during his probation and stay out of any establishment where alcohol is served unless accompanied by his parents.
"Collin Finnerty and his friends were looking for a fight and would not be deterred," prosecutor George Verghese said in closing arguments.
Finnerty also threw fake punches that landed within inches of Bloxsom's face and hurled various vulgar homophobic epithets, Bloxsom said.
Bayly said he believed Finnerty was guilty of "menacing" Bloxsom as part of an assault, even though it was one of his friends who admitted punching Bloxsom at the conclusion of the confrontation, giving him a bloody lip.
Finnerty's two friends admitted criminal responsibility in the case but avoided prosecution under a special program for first-time offenders.
Outside court, Finnerty's attorney, Steven McCool, said he will appeal the conviction.
"Judge Bayly found Collin Finnerty guilty of simple assault because he threw fake punches ... and because he scared one of the complaining witnesses in the case. That's it," McCool said.
He called the sentence "fair and lenient."
Finnerty declined to speak after the trial and declined to address the judge before receiving his sentence.
"My client has been very nervous throughout the proceeding. He's under a great deal of stress" in large part because of the rape charges, McCool told Bayly.
The judge said he found Bloxsom's account of the fight more credible than those offered by Finnerty's friends, who testified that the first blows in the fight were struck against Finnerty by Bloxsom's friend.
Among those who testified for Finnerty was former Duke lacrosse captain William Gerrish, who was with Finnerty that night. Gerrish said on the stand that he saw Finnerty get punched in the head, even though he had previously told police that he never saw Finnerty get hit.
Bayly said he found major inconsistencies in Gerrish's account of the fight.
Prosecutors had initially agreed to drop the assault charges against Finnerty as a first offender. They decided to go to trial after Finnerty was arrested in April in connection with allegations that he, along with two other Duke lacrosse athletes, raped an exotic dancer.
Finnerty's attorney in the rape case, Wade Smith, told WRAL Tuesday that he was not concerned about the conviction and that it probably would not have any impact on the rape case, even if it were brought up in trial.