Duke Lacrosse Update: Pictures and Alibis

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Apr 19, 2006 8:33 AM

Some more info for the skepticism column.

The local ABC affiliate got a look at the time-stamped pictures taken the night of the party:

11:02 p.m.: The first picture shows at least 10 students hanging out in a living room, apparently waiting for the dancers to arrive. Most of the students appear to be drinking. By the number of people in this photo, it appears only a fraction of the 47 lacrosse team members are there.

12 a.m.: This is the first picture of the strippers. Students are watching the show, but not grabbing or attempting to touch the women. Bruises are clearly visible on the legs and thighs of the alleged victim.

12:00:40 a.m.: Another picture taken 40 seconds later shows bruises on the accuser's knees. Her right knee appears to have an open cut.

12:03:57 a.m.: About four minutes after arriving, a picture shows the strippers leaving the room. The photo clearly shows that the alleged victim left behind one of her shoes.

Between 12:10 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.: No photos were taken between this time.

12:30:12 a.m.: The next photo shows the alleged victim on the back porch, carrying what appears to be her purse and a makeup bag. Her clothes are intact.

12:30:47 a.m.: A photo taken 30 seconds later shows the alleged victim on the porch and she appears to smile.

12:31:26 a.m.: But 30 seconds after that, a photo shows the alleged victim stumbling down the back steps of the house.

12:37:58 a.m.: A series of photos are taken, all showing the woman lying on her left side on the back porch, seemingly passed out or asleep. She had visible cuts on her legs and buttocks that did not appear in the previous photos.

The cuts may be from falling. The cuts on her buttocks line up with the edge of a screen door she may have hit on the way down.

12:41 a.m.: The final photo shows the accuser and the second dancer in a black car. The accuser is in the passengers seat.

Many of the photos taken on the back porch show pink splotches, which the defense says is undried nail polish. They claim the accuser was polishing her nails in the bathroom between 12:10 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. - - not being raped.

The D.A. has been saying that the alleged attack took place in the bathroom of the house for 30 minutes between midnight, when the girls arrived, and 12:55 a.m., when the police responded to the first 911 call to find an empty house. The only gap in the picture timeline is from 12:10-12:30 a.m., but the pictures show she was injured before that gap.

Also, one of the accused players, Reade Seligmann, apparently has an alibi:

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.

That Wachovia is about a 3-5 minute drive from the house, so he would have left the house around 12:20, which would have given him just 20 minutes at the party with the victim. As ABC points out:

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.

That's a lot of crime for just 20 minutes.

Also, it occurs to me that the kind of man who brutally rapes and beats a stripper at a college party might not be the same kind of man who calls a cab afterwards instead of just driving drunk to the Wachovia. I mean, at that point, don't you just cut your losses and jump behind the wheel? Just a thought. But who knows? He may just be a really road-safe rapist.

La Shawn comments on the picture timeline.

Bulldog hasn't chimed in yet, but I'm sure he will.

UPDATE: John Hawkins thinks we're getting into Tawana Brawley territory.

In the end, what it all comes down to here is that if these guys are guilty of rape, let's hope that they go to prison for a long, long time. If this turns out to be a false accusation, then let's hope the exotic dancer is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But, whatever the ultimate outcome of this case is, it should lead to a lot of soul searching about the way rape cases are handled in this country.