Source: Duke suspends two lacrosse players

Updated: April 20, 2006, 12:04 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Two lacrosse players arrested on rape and kidnapping charges have been suspended by Duke University, a source familiar with the investigation told ESPN on Wednesday.

Reade Seligmann, a sophomore from Essex Fells, N.J., and Collin Finnerty, a sophomore from Garden City, N.Y., will be suspended until the case is resolved, the source said.

Attorney Bill Cotter, who represents Finnerty, said his client has left Durham, although he wouldn't say where he went. Attorney Kirk Osborn, representing Seligmann, declined to say whether his client has been suspended.

Seligmann and his father spent much of Wednesday working from the law office of attorney Robert Ekstrand, who represents dozens of uncharged lacrosse players.

Seligmann and Finnerty were indicted Monday on charges of first-degree rape, sexual offense and kidnapping. Each posted $400,000 bond after their pre-dawn arrests early Tuesday, and both were released within hours. Their attorneys have denied the charges and said the men are innocent.

A 27-year-old student at a nearby college told police she was attacked by three white men at a house where she and another woman were hired to dance at a party of lacrosse team members the night of March 13.

Cotter also rejected any sort of deal with prosecutors, proclaiming again his client's innocence.

"I don't think there is any chance in hell that there will be a guilty plea," Cotter said. "I can't tell you about [everybody], but my client's case is either going to be dismissed by the D.A. or go to trial."

The school has declined to say whether it plans to discipline either of the players, although officials noted the university has historically suspended students charged with a felony.

Police searched the dorm rooms of Seligmann and Finnerty on Tuesday.

District Attorney Mike Nifong said Tuesday he also hoped to link a third man to the alleged attack soon, but he said that person had not been "identified with certainty."

Lawyers for the players have assailed the district attorney for bringing the charges after DNA tests had failed to connect any of the team members to the alleged rape.

Seligmann and Finnerty are next scheduled to appear in court May 15.

Nifong has declined to say what led to the charges or discuss evidence in the case. The dorm rooms were searched Tuesday night for about two hours, according to resident assistant Taggart White. The warrants had not been returned to the court clerk's or magistrate's office by midday Wednesday.

He did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment about that effort, or about searches by Durham police Tuesday night of Seligmann's and Finnerty's dorm rooms.

"I can imagine they never quit investigating, but I think it's unusual to be executing search warrants after they've indicted," Cotter said Wednesday.

Nifong has ordered additional DNA testing, which was originally performed at the state crime lab. Cotter said he believes those results should be "back any minute."

The allegations of rape led Duke to cancel the highly ranked lacrosse team's season, accept the resignation of the team's coach and begin a series of internal investigations, including one into the behavior of the lacrosse team.

Meanwhile, USA Today reported Thursday on its Web site that "about a dozen members" of the lacrosse team have asked the school to clear their way to explore transfers to other programs.

The report said Duke has granted other schools permission to talk to about half the Blue Devils' 24 freshmen and sophomores, according to senior associate athletics director Chris Kennedy.

Kennedy told USA Today that no players have indicated they want to leave "right now."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.