Local News

Seligmann Never Thought He'd Be Indicted

Posted June 15, 2007 10:18 p.m. EDT
Updated June 15, 2007 11:02 p.m. EDT

— Once accused of rape, Reade Seligmann testified Friday that he never thought in a million years he would ever be indicted on charges connected to an exotic dancer's claims that she was raped, sodomized and beaten at a Duke lacrosse party.

He and his teammates had faith the DNA testing would clear their names and that Durham police Sgt. Mark Gottlieb told them "they would clear everything up and everything's going to be just fine. Don't you worry."

"We were under the impression that giving DNA would be the quickest way," Seligmann told the three-member Disciplinary Hearing Commission of the North Carolina State Bar.

The players were eventually cleared by North Carolina attorney general, Roy Cooper, who concluded they were "innocent" victims of a rogue prosecutor's "tragic rush to accuse."

The fate of that prosecutor -- Mike Nifong -- as a licensed attorney could be decided by Saturday as the disciplinary panel decides whether he violated rules of professional conduct.

Amidst tears, Seligmann talked about the day he learned he would be indicted -- April 17, his mother's birthday -- and how he would have to break the news to her.

Seligmann said he wondered how he was going to tell his mother and that he called his minister to ask him to be by his mother's side when he called her.

"The life was sucked right out of her," he said.

Seligmann also testified that his life changed as a result of comments District Attorney Mike Nifong made to the media following the allegations and prior to the indictments.

Wanted posters hung on the wall of his favorite restaurant where he ate daily and the black cashier he knew by name would not look him in the eye when she took his money.

"I just remember feeling so helpless. I didn't wear my Duke stuff anymore … I thought it would be easier to get through the day," he said.

He recalled his experience with a black female study partner he sat next to each day in an African-American history class and about an editorial she had written in The Duke Chronicle in which she wrote "the Duke lacrosse team is bringing Duke back to the Jim Crowe South."

"A person I thought was my friend was effectively telling me, 'You're bringing us back to one of the darkest periods of American history," Seligmann said.

Nifong's attorneys did not cross-examine Seligmann.