ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Key Evidence Supports Alibi in Potential Rape Defense for One Indicted Duke Player


April 19, 2006 — -- On Monday, they were indicted for allegedly raping and kidnapping a 27-year-old woman at an off-campus party. On Tuesday, they turned themselves in and were released from custody after posting a $400,000 bond. For Duke University sophomore lacrosse players Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, a long legal battle has just begun.

Over the last few days, sources close to the defense have given ABC News an exclusive look at the evidence behind one player's alleged alibi -- evidence that includes electronic records, photographs and witness statements. If that material is authentic, it could prove that it was practically impossible for him to rape, kidnap or assault the alleged victim.

Seligmann's argument is simple: He is innocent and he has an alibi. He attended the party that night, but documents, photos and witness testimony show that he wasn't there long enough or at the right time to attack the alleged victim.

Around midnight the night of March 13, Seligmann was already at the party when two women hired from a local escort agency arrived to dance for the boys -- $400 each for a two-hour performance. A series of time-stamped photographs viewed by ABC News show the girls dancing at midnight and at 12:02 a.m.

By 12:24 a.m., a receipt reviewed by ABC indicates that Seligmann's ATM card was used at a nearby Wachovia bank. In a written statement to the defense also reviewed by ABC, a cabdriver confirms picking up Seligmann and a friend a block and a half from the party, and driving them to the bank. By 12:25 a.m., he was making a phone call to a girlfriend out of state.

What did Seligmann do after leaving the bank? The taxi driver remembers taking him to a drive-thru fast-food restaurant and then dropping him off at his dorm. Duke University records show that Seligmann's card was used to gain entry at 12:46 a.m.

In addition to bolstering Seligmann's alibi, the taxi driver's written testimony provided a rare glimpse of color in an otherwise darkened night.

"I remember those two guys starting enjoying their food inside my car, but I'm glad I end up with a nice tip and fare $25," the taxi driver said in his testimony.

ABC News traced the steps of Seligmann's story, timing how long it took to get from place to place. In repeated trials, the drive between the Wachovia branch and the corner where the cab picked him up took approximately five minutes. This suggests that Seligmann must have left the house by around 12:19 a.m.

So, Seligmann's alibi suggests, he and the alleged victim were in the house together for less than 20 minutes. According to defense sources, based on the alleged victim's affidavit, all of the following would have transpired within that time period: She and her dance partner performed for several minutes, left after feeling threatened by the boys' growing "excited and aggressive," returned after being persuaded by team members to dance some more, and then she was forced into a bathroom, beaten and raped.

Within those same minutes, phone bill records reviewed by ABC show that the defendant's cell phone made at least two outgoing calls.

Seligmann and his co-defendant were presumably among the players identified by the alleged victim last Thursday. According to defense attorneys, the prosecution said the woman picked out two of her alleged attackers with 100 percent certainty and one other attacker with 90 percent certainty while examining pictures. But did Seligmann have the time, much less the will, to commit a violent, sexual crime?

Though he was indicted, Seligmann is presumed innocent until a jury says otherwise. No one knows what evidence District Attorney Mike Nifong will bring as he looks to convict Seligmann and Finnerty. If that conviction occurs, the two young men face mandatory jail time. Whether the evidence above will clear their names -- in either a court of law or in the court of public opinion -- will become clear in the weeks and months to come.