Local News

Duke Lacrosse Witness Nominated as 'Everyday Hero'

Posted December 24, 2007 11:21 a.m. EST
Updated December 24, 2007 1:25 p.m. EST

— Reader's Digest has nominated a cabdriver whose testimony helped clear a Duke lacrosse player for its 2008 Hero of the Year Award.

Moezeldin Elmostafa, 38, of Durham, told investigators that Reade Seligmann was in his taxi during the time that Crystal Magnum, an exotic dancer, claimed she was raped by Seligmann and two of his teammates on March 14, 2006.

To give out its award, Reader's Digest lets users vote among the "everyday heroes" nominated on its Web site. The magazine says it picked these people, because they "risk their own lives to help people in trouble ... without expectation of accolades or even a thank-you."

After Elmostafa – an immigrant from Sudan – talked to investigators, a routine background check turned up a warrant against him for aiding and abetting misdemeanor larceny in a 2003 shoplifting case.

Elmostafa maintained his innocence and was acquitted at a trial in August 2006. He said he gave a ride to a woman without knowing she had stolen purses from a Durham department store and helped locate her when store security told him about the theft.

The woman later pleaded guilty to larceny.

Elmostafa, meanwhile, continued to provide exonerating testimony about Seligmann, and in April 2007, state Attorney General Roy Cooper declared all three indicted Duke lacrosse players innocent.

Elmostafa told Reader's Digest that he has passed his citizenship test and is waiting to take his oath as an American citizen.