Thursday, April 20, 2006

Duke Rape Case: the reported alibis

From an ABC News exclusive:

Over the last few days, sources close to the defense have given ABC News an exclusive look at the evidence behind one player's alleged alibi -- evidence that includes electronic records, photographs and witness statements. If that material is authentic, it could prove that it was practically impossible for him to rape, kidnap or assault the alleged victim.
There's a huge flaw here that many of those who are convinced that the alleged victim is a liar refuse to see.

Where to begin with the questionability of the alibis?

Let's start with this (from the ABC report):

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


Isn't that interesting when the earliest reports say the dancers arrived on March 13 around 11:30 pm. Where's the missing half hour?

Here's part of a timeline from (April 6):

11:30: women show up at house.
12:08ish: women leave
12:10ish: players skedaddle from house
But by April 18 the timeline has changed.

From WRAL timeline:

Approximately 11:53 p.m.An exotic dancer, who later tells police she was raped, sodomized, beaten and strangled for 30 minutes, arrives at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., where she has an appointment to perform at a party in which members of Duke University's men's lacrosse team are present.
Who provided this new arrival time to the media? The article only says: "The following timeline is based on public information ..." Would that have been information made public by defense attorneys?

Now on to the time-stamped photographs. There's still no mention of whether these photographs were taken with a digital camera. So there is no way to know how easy it would be to tamper with the time-stamps or if any portion of any of the pictures could have been photoshopped.

Now this: A taxi driver picked up 2 men, including one of the defendants, a block and a half from the party and drove them to a nearby bank -- if you are going to a nearby bank why walk a block and a half then take a taxi the rest of the way? Unless you think you might need an alibi.

Note: I heard from a reader who said this isn't an implausible scenario.

Update on taxi ride:

The details of the taxi ride have changed from what was reported in the ABC report.
From CNN: Defense attorneys: Timeline clears Duke rape suspects:
[taxi driver] said he picked up [one of the defendents] and a friend at 610 North Buchanan Blvd. at 12:19 a.m. He said he could tell that [one of the defendents] had been drinking, but that he didn't appear drunk.
The call for the taxi was logged in at 12:14 am. If the dancers arrived around 11:30 pm, this still doesn't provide an alibi. Which means my questioning of the original taxi scenario was valid and that some of the information being fed to the press is inaccurate.

End of this update.

12:24 a.m. ATM card owned by one of the defendants used at a nearby bank. The importance of this time depends on the acceptance that the time-stamped photographs paint an accurate picture of the timeline. Also if all the players were contributing cash to the dancers payment wouldn't these men have all the cash they need for the night?

12:25 a.m Call to girlfriend out of state followed by a cab ride to a drive-thru fast-food restaurant and then dropping him off at his dorm. If he is guilty of rape this call makes perfect sense. Got to show the world that you have a girlfriend and don't need to rape anybody to get laid.

The hailing of a cab in the scenario described, along with possible tampering of time-stamped photographs, could be seen as a deliberate attempt to create an alibi using an impartial witness, bank transactions and a call to the girlfriend.

Especially with that missing half hour.

What could have happened during the missing half hour (maybe as little as 23 minutes)?

If the dancers were gone and all the players took of at 12:10ish, this alibi is no alibi at all.


For those of you who missed it, I'm raising questions about details that have been accepted by many as fact, not convicting anyone through my blog. I'll leave that to the courts.

From WRAL:

While waiting for the men whom he would later drive to a nearby gas station, the Sudan-born driver saw a woman walking through a crowd of men toward a car, and heard someone say, "She just a stripper. She's going to call the police."
Well, isn't that an interesting tidbit. I don't know about anyone else but that sounds consistant with what someone would say after committing rape or knowing a rape occurred.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:52 PM   6 comments links to this post


At April 20, 2006 6:23 PM, Blogger SomewhatChunky said...

The timeline stuff is interesting. I am sure that this will all be looked at in depth before and at the trial by those who have far greater access to factual information than any of us.

But I just don't buy all this complex conspiracy stuff unless this was a carefully planned pre-meditated rape. This isn't a movie or a novel and the level of planning involved here doesn't seem credible for a college student winging it on the fly - remember these are the same guys who never even cleaned the bathroom for two days enabling the cops to find the fingernails etc....

I read somehere that the photos were taken with a picture phone. Same commenst about the photoshop altering - this would be very hard to do in a manner whcih could withstand expert scrutiny - which these photos are sure to eventually get. The players might not know that but the lawyers would.

You might be a block and half away because as you left the party with someone else you only then decided to get some money and food.

Lots of reasons why you might not have any cash - the fact that they all chipped in for the dancers has nothing to do with it (i.e.... hey Dave can I borrow $40 until Monday?).

If a rape happened, it seems unlikely it was planned in advance. These guys may be rowdy jerks or worse, but they aren't stupid. Planning to rape someone with 40 people around seems awfully dumb - no matter how much you trust them. Getting drunk and angry and doing it impulsively seems far more likely.

One thing that makes me wonder - before the DNA tests came back, the Duke team and their lawyers were unanimous that no sex took place - not no rape - but no sex of any type. Even if they used condoms etc... there is no way they could be sure that there would be no DNA if there was a violent rape. If there was a match, not only would they look like liars at a trial, but the whole usual defense of "consensual sex" would be gone (a defense, whether true or not, could be made in a convincing fashion in this case as it is not unknown for people who perform at these type of parties to sometimes go farther). I don't want to give the Duke players credit for thinking the implications of this all through - but I assume their lawyers would.

I'd like to know more about how she picked the guys she did. I think there's a strong possibility that if there was a rape, she picked the wrong guys. Even if she got a great look at them and remembered them, she would have only had a photo or two of each. Lots of these guys look similar in their photos. If I went to a party, saw 50 guys about the same age and height, and then several days later had to pcik out a few of them based on a mug shot.... I think I might but I wouldn't bet the ranch on it. Throw in trauma etc etc...

At April 20, 2006 9:15 PM, Blogger Johan1066 said...

Jeez, can't you stand to hear dissenting opinions? Are you so insecure that you think reading something you don't agree with will somehow change you?

Ya know, sometimes people just get what they deserve, even strippers and those on dates.

At April 20, 2006 10:43 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


Ah, so you believe this woman may have been raped, you just don't care. Got it.

At April 21, 2006 8:39 AM, Blogger mlr710 said...

I think you make excellent points with regard to the timeline, but I also think the taxi driver's account of the second set of passengars he picked up that night is probably the most telling. I think the accuser probably isn't sure who exactly attacked her (because I believe she was slipped something in a drink), but I'm convinced in my heart she is telling the truth as far as what happened. I also wonder what kind of idiots would submit to having their DNA sampled if they weren't anywhere around and have no idea what the heck is going on, unless the peer pressure to "be a team player" convinced them it was "the right thing to do". Also, the defense hasn't suggested DNA from an unknown party was we can rule out this accuser had sex with someone else...they're sticking with the "no sex at all" story. I guess those vaginal and anal bruises were the result of a horny ghost or a self pleasuring session that got out of hand - that or the nurse and doctor that examined her that night are the most incompetent medical professionals on the planet. My guess, only about 10 to 15 of the guys know the WHOLE truth, about 10 more think the accuser really consented (that's what they were told and is now putting herself through hell just for kicks (these would be the guys on the team striving to be more popular with the captains) the rest (freshmen, sophomores) have been completely suckered and eventually a few will figure it out and crack.

At April 21, 2006 11:12 AM, Blogger Txfeminist said...

Another thing that bears consideration is that, while the victim stated that she was raped for a half hour, it seems odd that she was sober upon arrival and falling-down incoherent afterward. If a (date-rape?) drug was used, an event that took ten minutes could have seemed to her more like thirty if drugged.

At April 22, 2006 3:00 PM, Blogger Maureen O'Danu said...

In response to Somewhatchunky, actually I've been thinking that the evidence points to this having been premeditated. The men took great pains to soothe the women enough to get them to come back inside after behaving atrociously initially, then separated them and raped one. In addition, one of the team members sent an e-mail immediately afterward speculating on "taking it up a notch" by skinning a stripper.

The whole ATM and cab incident also seemed contrived, as though they were ensuring their alibis, and the absolute surety in face of a SANE forensic rape test showing clear, positive, extremely recent signs of vaginal and anal rape that no DNA would be found suggested at least enough planning to use condoms, or perhaps a foreign object. It doesn't help the fact that the Durham police department took over 48 hours to get around to investigating the scene of the crime. That would be plenty of time to clean up the area.


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