Cabbie: Player behaved normally


DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – A cab driver who picked up a Duke University lacrosse player the night he’s accused of raping a stripper appears to reinforce a timeline the defense says supports his innocence, but also casts doubt on claims that nothing happened at a team party.

When he returned to the off-campus party to pick up a second fare after dropping off Reade Seligmann, Moez Mostafa said he saw a woman leaving the party in anger, and overheard someone say, “She just a stripper. She’s going to call the police.”

Seligmann, of Essex Fells, N.J., and fellow sophomore lacrosse player Collin Finnerty, of Garden City, N.Y., are charged with first-degree rape, sexual assault and kidnapping.

The accuser, a 27-year-old black student from 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 March 13 lacrosse team party.

District Attorney Mike Nifong, who has not granted interviews about the case for weeks, has said he also hopes to charge a third suspect in the crime.

The accuser, who told police she arrived around 11:30 p.m., said she and another dancer performed for a short time before getting angry and leaving the party, returning a short time later after receiving an apology.

The accuser told police she was separated from the other dancer and assaulted for 30 minutes once back inside. A member of the defense team, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the defense is working with players who could still be indicted, said time-stamped photos show the women dancing around midnight.

Mostafa’s logs show a call for a cab at 12:14 a.m. A person close to the case told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that cell phone records show Seligmann called for a taxi at that time.

The defense argues that if the dancers were performing around midnight, Seligmann would not have had enough time to have participated in the assault.

Mostafa, 37, told the AP on Thursday he had spoken with Seligmann’s father, but no one from the police department or Nifong’s office had contacted him.

Mostafa said Seligmann appeared to be calm and jovial during the cab ride. After dropping off Seligmann, he said, he returned to the house to pick up another fare. When he arrived, it looked like a party was breaking up, with people crowded on both sides of the street.

While waiting on the four passengers 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.”

Mostafa said the woman, wearing jeans and a sweater, appeared to exchange words with some people in the crowd before getting into the driver’s side of a car.

“She looked, like, mad,” he said. “In her face, the way she walked, the way she talked, she looked like mad.”

The Associated Press was shown four photos by a member of the defense team Wednesday, but none were the pictures that allegedly show the women dancing around midnight.

Three of the photos show the accuser smiling, dressed in a skimpy, revealing outfit, and looking through her purse. The fourth shows two young men helping a woman into a passenger seat of a car.

The car in the photo was black, while Mostafa said the angry woman got into a white car.

At 12:53 a.m., police received a 911 call from a woman complaining that she had been called racial slurs by white men gathered outside the home where the party took place. The defense has said it believes the second dancer at the party made that call.

Also Thursday, authorities released a warrant detailing their Tuesday night search of Finnerty’s dorm room. The warrant stated police were looking for clothing and property belonging to the accuser, including a “white 6-inch shoe.” They took from the room a newspaper article and an envelope addressed to Finnerty.

Seligmann’s room also was searched. Authorities, who have 48 hours to return a search warrant after it is executed, had not yet released the warrant for his room by midday Thursday.

Associated Press Writer Tim Whitmire contributed to this report.

AP-ES-04-20-06 1712EDT