Duke Lacrosse Lawyers Cite Photo Timeline

Lawyers for lacrosse players at Duke University swept up amid allegations of rape are citing a timeline of photographs that they claim proves the accuser actually was manicuring her nails at the only time the rape could have occurred.

ABC News viewed more than a dozen photos taken by a student at the house party where the assault is alleged to have occurred, many of which were blown up to identify details.

On Monday, a grand jury meets to determine whether there is probable cause that a crime took place. If 12 out of 18 grand jurors agree that there is and who committed it, an indictment will be handed down.

The accuser in the case is a student at a nearby college who was hired as an exotic dancer for a party at the house. She says that after performing for the players, she was forcefully held down by her arms and legs and raped by three men.

According to the application for a search warrant, the woman recalls being "hit, kicked and strangled. … She tried to defend herself, but was overpowered." The district attorney has said he believes a crime was committed, though charges have not been filed and no student arrested.

Sources associated with the lacrosse players legal team tell ABC News that they believe the photos to be authentic. They say it would be extremely difficult to falsify the time imprint and other recording data from the digital camera used to take the photos. They also cite corroborating evidence that includes a zoomed-in image of one player's wristwatch: The time on his watch matches the time of the digital imprint.

What's In the Photos

In the photos, ABC News could see three couches in a semi-circle with the dancers in the center. The scene looks like a typical college fraternity house -- with a sign on a wall bearing the Duke insignia and saying, "It's hard to beat a team that never gives up."

Sources from the players' camp say the photos corroborate the players' version of events and their claims that no sexual assault took place. Students are shown drinking and horsing around, but do not reach out toward, or make contact with, the dancers during the four- to seven-minute performance captured in photos.

Some players are talking among themselves and not paying close to attention to the dancers, which sources say contradicts the accuser's claim that the boys were growing "excited and aggressive."

A shot of the accuser during her dance shows what appear to be bruised knees and lacerations. Sources among the students' legal team argue that she may have had some of the bruises she says are from a sexual assault before ever arriving at the house.

Some of the woman's fingers are missing nail extensions. Sources associated with the players' legal team link this to the hypothesis that she was fixing her nails in the bathroom and that is why broken nails were found there -- not because she was clawing at her alleged attackers in self-defense.

ABC News was not shown any photos of the alleged victim time stamped between 12:03:57 and 12:30:12. That is the period during which both the players and the accuser say she was in the bathroom and the woman claims she was raped.

High Tension

Tensions in the community are simmering amid the allegations by the African-American accuser against white lacrosse team members. Racist graffiti has been found on the nearby, historically black North Carolina Central University campus where the 27-year-old accuser goes to school.

Lawyers for the students are outraged that Durham police tried to interview lacrosse players on campus recently without their attorneys present.

The players' lawyers claim that a police recording of an officer who was at the accuser's side casts doubt on her story.

"She's breathing, appears to be fine," the officer says on the tape. "She's not in distress. She's just passed out drunk."

Lacrosse team members and powerful alumni are trying to do damage control, and have hired powerful Washington lawyer Bob Bennett, who also defended President Clinton.

'A Lot of Rumors'

The issue of guilt or innocence may hang over the campus -- but Amanda Boston, an African-American student visiting the Duke campus after being accepted there, seemed to take the controversy in stride.

"Everybody's been really, really friendly," she said, "a lot more friendly than they are in Brooklyn, so I'm not worried about race relations."

Durham officials have tried to tamp down speculation and anxiety over the case.

"It's not boiling over," Durham Mayor William Bell warned "Good Morning America Weekend Edition" on Saturday. "Durham has a lot of patience, a lot of tolerance. … People have concerns, but we're prepared to let the legal process follow its course."

Bell insisted, "We aren't going to try the case in the media.

"You're getting a lot of hearsay, a lot of rumors," he added. "But where the rubber meets the road is in the courts."

ABC News' Mike von Fremd reported a version of this story April 15, 2006, for "Good Morning America Weekend Edition" and "World News Tonight." Lara Setrakian and members of ABC News' law and justice unit also contributed to this report.