Skip to comments.Lawyers question dancer's plea deal in '02
Posted on 05/17/2006 10:06:43 PM PDT by freespirited
Defense lawyers suggested Wednesday that the District Attorney's Office may have shown favoritism as early as 2002 to an exotic dancer who claimed she was gang raped during a Duke University lacrosse party in March.
In a written motion filed in Durham County Superior Court, attorneys for indicted rape suspect Reade Seligmann asked why the dancer received "such a favorable plea bargain" for criminal charges arising out of a drunken, stolen-car, high-speed police chase in June 2002.
Court records show that even though the woman was charged with four felonies and numerous other traffic violations, the offenses were plea-bargained down to misdemeanors and she received only probation.
But District Attorney Mike Nifong, who is handling the rape case, and who was an assistant prosecutor in 2002, said Wednesday he had nothing to do with the plea deal four years ago. He said he didn't know which local prosecutor negotiated it.
Wednesday's motion was submitted by lawyers Kirk Osborn and Ernest Conner.
"I think this is just Kirk's way of suggesting something untoward happened," said Nifong. "He can argue it in court and a judge can rule on it."
Seligmann is scheduled for a preliminary appearance in Durham County Superior Court today. His lawyers have asked that various motions be heard, including a request to reduce Seligmann's bond from $400,000 to $40,000.
Although Seligmann posted the bond by certified check and was released from jail last month, the money was supplied by a family friend who would like to have much of it back, a defense motion says.
But even though Seligmann's lawyers have asked to argue certain motions this afternoon, there is no guarantee they will get their way.
Nifong said it might be too early to deal with such business at today's so-called "first setting" of the case.
"I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen," he said. "The purpose of a first setting is not to hear motions. Generally, they are heard at the second setting. It will be up to the judge."
The other indicted rape suspects, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, also are free under $400,000 bonds. They are due for preliminary court appearances next month.
The alleged mid-March sexual attack supposedly occurred during a lacrosse party at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., where one of the exotic dancers claimed she was raped, sodomized and beaten for some 30 minutes in a bathroom by three Duke students.
In addition to seeking information about the 2002 incident, Seligmann's attorneys filed papers Wednesday asking for numerous details about the ongoing rape investigation. Among other things, they asked Nifong to give them recordings of 911 calls made the night of the alleged rape, along with notes and memoranda pertaining to communications between Nifong and Duke University on the subject.
Details about the exotic dancer's complete criminal history, as well as that of the second dancer at the party, also are sought in the newly filed motion.
Finally, defense attorneys said they want investigative files pertaining to various employers of the two dancers, including Allure Escort Services and Bunny Hole Entertainment.
If Nifong doesn't voluntarily surrender the requested information within seven days, a judge should order him to do so, lawyers Osborn and Conner wrote.
Meanwhile, a Durham County Sheriff's Office report -- reviewed four years ago by Sgt. T.H. McCrae and recently obtained by The Herald-Sun -- provides details of the 2002 car chase involving the alleged rape victim.
The incident began at a topless dance club while the woman was performing for a taxi driver, McCrae wrote.
"As she was feeling him up and putting her hands in his pockets she removed the keys to his taxi cab, without him knowing," the officer said. "He [the cabbie] told her he would drive her home but needed to go to the restroom first. While in the restroom he was advised that she was driving off in his taxi cab."
McCrae said he chased the woman at speeds up to 70 mph in a 55-mph zone until she finally stopped.
"As I began to approach the vehicle she put it in drive and drove towards me," McCrae added. "I jumped out of the way to the right and she missed me. The suspect then struck the right rear quarter of my patrol vehicle."
Another chase ensued, but the woman finally was apprehended after having a flat tire, according to McCrae.
The officer said she registered a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.19 on a portable sensing device -- more than double North Carolina's 0.08 legal threshold for impairment.
And while being questioned, the dancer "passed out and was unresponsive," McCrae said.
She was taken to the emergency room at Duke University Hospital, McCrae's report indicated.
On the night of the alleged rape, the woman was also described by an officer as being "passed out drunk" before being taken to the emergency room and saying she had been assaulted.
In connection with the 2002 incident, the woman was charged with felonious assault with a deadly weapon [the stolen taxi] on a government officer, felonious larceny and felonious possession of a stolen vehicle, felonious speeding to elude arrest, driving while impaired, driving with a revoked license, driving while left of center, ignoring an officer's blue lights and siren, reckless driving, driving the wrong way on a dual-lane highway, having an open alcoholic beverage container in the car, two counts of damaging personal property and resisting a public officer.
yes, we can let a person steal a car and try to run somebody down without so much as a whimper, BUT THOSE NOISE VIOLATIONS WILL FEEL THE BRUNT OF THE LAW.............lol
The fact that she's a pathetic tramp who steals cars and tries to run down cops doesn't give anyone the right to rape her.
Nifong is a liar.
Would like to see her 'client list'.
your left out Christian
This is bizarre. How do you get out of charges like these?
...performing for a taxi driver?
your = you
What I can't understand is why Nifong, if he has such an air tight case, is going to let these three young men twist in the wind and put their lives on hold for a year before he brings them to trial.
barking dog theory......
You're asking the wrong person, but my unqualified opinion is that of course there will be a change of venue if the case goes to trial. Which I doubt it will.
She was raped by 3 men. And originally the news reported she claimed she was raped by 20 men. Is there a credibility gap here or is there a possibility she is purjuring herself for financial gain (Lawsuit next)
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