Finnerty ordered to stand trial in D.C.

Updated: April 25, 2006, 5:39 PM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- A Duke University lacrosse player charged with raping a woman was ordered Tuesday to stand trial in an unrelated assault case.

Collin Finnerty, 19, appeared in D.C. Superior Court, where the judge determined he had violated conditions of the diversion program he entered last year after being charged with assaulting a man in Georgetown.

Finnerty and two friends had been accused of punching the man after he told them to "stop calling him gay and other derogatory names,'' according to court documents.

The charges would have been dismissed under the terms of the diversion program once Finnerty completed 25 hours of community service, but the terms also required he that he not be arrested for any criminal offenses.

Finnerty remains free pending a July 10 trial in the Georgetown case. He could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted of simple assault. Judge John Bayly also set a 9 p.m. curfew, ordered him to report by phone to court officials every Friday, and required that he stay away from places that sell alcohol.

Finnerty nodded when Bayly asked if he understood. A family priest stood a few feet behind him in the courtroom.

"This incident has been grossly mischaracterized,'' said attorney Steven J. McCool, who is representing Finnerty, of Garden City, N.Y., in the Georgetown case.

Finnerty and Duke teammate Reade Seligmann, 20, were indicted on rape and kidnapping charges last week. A 27-year-old exotic dancer who had been hired to perform at a lacrosse team party March 13 told police three men raped her in a bathroom of the off-campus house. District Attorney Mike Nifong has said he expects to charge a third person soon.

Defense attorneys dispute the timeline prosecutors have presented.

Seligmann's attorney, Kirk Osborn, on Monday also demanded prosecutors turn over the accuser's medical, legal and education records.

"This request is based on the fact that the complaining witness has a history of criminal activity and behavior, which includes alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and dishonesty, all conduct which indicate mental, emotional and/or physical problems, which affect her credibility as a witness,'' the defense said in court papers. The accuser is a single mother and student at nearby North Carolina Central University.

Osborn also wrote in motions filed Monday that no forensic evidence links Seligmann to the alleged crimes, based on the limited information provided to the defense by prosecutors. Initial DNA test results found no link between the 46 players tested and the accuser; Nifong expects additional DNA test results next month.

Nifong, who has not granted an interview about the case in weeks, refused to comment.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press