Duke accuser changed account, defense says

College lacrosse

January 12, 2007

The accuser in the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case told prosecutors in December that one of the three players charged did not commit any sex act on her during the alleged attack, according to papers filed yesterday by the defense.

The attacker identified as Reade Seligmann was repeatedly urged to take part in the alleged attack, she told an investigator, but he said he could not because he was getting married, the papers said.

"The accuser's most recent recollection of events demonstrates clearly that she cannot accurately recall and describe her attackers and that any identification made by her is necessarily unreliable," the defense filing said.

The new description of Seligmann's role in the alleged assault in March was one of several changes the accuser made in her story during a Dec. 21 interview with an investigator from District Attorney Mike Nifong's office, the defense said. The accuser also said she was no longer certain she had been penetrated vaginally by a penis, a necessary element of rape charges in North Carolina.

In another development, the forensic expert hired by Nifong told CBS News' 60 Minutes that he made a "big error" by not stating in his report that the only DNA he found on the accuser was from several men who were not on the Duke lacrosse team.

That detail was omitted from Dr. Brian Meehan's report.

Defendant Collin Finnerty's mother, Mary Ellen, told the program, airing Sunday, that when she found out about the omission in court, "I think [I felt] one of the strongest feelings of rage that I've had. ... I literally had to turn to my husband, because I was shaking from my head to my toe, and say, `Hold me down.'"

Sun reporter Jeff Barker contributed to this article.

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