Duke Invites Two Suspects Back To School

AP, Jan. 3, 2007

Duke University has invited two of the lacrosse players accused of sexual assault to return to school as students in good standing, a defense attorney said Wednesday.

Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann had been barred from attending class during the fall semester while their case made its way through court. The third player charged in the case, Dave Evans, graduated in May, the day before he was charged with raping a stripper at a team party in March.

Rape charges against all three players were dropped last month, after the accuser said she could no longer remember some details about the case. The men are still charged with sexual offense and kidnapping.

“As circumstances have evolved in this extraordinary case, we have attempted to balance recognition of the gravity of legal charges with the presumption of your innocence,” Larry Moneta, Duke’s vice president for student affairs said in a letter to Seligmann dated Tuesday.

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Seligmann’s attorney, James P. Cooney III, said Finnerty received the same offer.

As for whether Seligmann would accept the offer and return to school, Cooney said: “He’s considering his options.”

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The case faces its next hurdle at a hearing Feb. 5, when the defense is expected to ask a judge to throw out results of a photo lineup in which the accuser identified the players. Without her identification, experts said, District Attorney Mike Nifong may have to drop the other charges.

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