- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2006

One of two Duke University lacrosse players charged with raping an exotic dancer last month at an off-campus party will face trial in a November assault in the District.

Collin H. Finnerty, 19, was ordered yesterday by a D.C. Superior Court judge to stand trial on charges related to the November altercation in Georgetown. He and two former high-school lacrosse teammates are accused of punching Jeffrey O. Bloxgom in the face.

According to court documents, Mr. Finnerty and two friends assaulted Mr. Bloxgom after the victim told them to “stop calling him gay and other derogatory names.”

At yesterday’s hearing, Mr. Finnerty — dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and green tie and accompanied by his family’s priest — stood quietly as Judge John H. Bayly rescinded the terms of the diversion program Mr. Finnerty entered after being charged with simple assault.

According to the terms of the program, the charges would have been dismissed had Mr. Finnerty completed 25 hours of community service and stayed out of trouble.

Mr. Finnerty, of Garden City, N.Y., could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted.

A status hearing was set for June 15. A trial date for the assault was tentatively set for July 10.

Channing Phillips, spokes-man for the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office said the two other defendants, Daniel R. D’Agnes and Patrick A. Bonanno, remain in the diversion program. All three have a 9 p.m. curfew and must stay away from establishments that sell alcohol.

Mr. Finnerty also must report by phone to court officials each Friday.

Mr. Bloxgom told police that he was “minding his business” Nov. 5 outside the Daily Grill in the 1300 block of Wisconsin Avenue Northwest, when Mr. Finnerty and his two co-defendants — Mr. D’Agnes, a student at Georgetown University, and Mr. Bonanno, a Providence College student from Rhode Island — began harassing him “for no apparent reason.”

Mr. Bloxgom told police that when he tried to walk away, the three assaulted him without cause. He suffered minor injuries to his lip and chin.

The assault is not being prosecuted as a hate crime, but the U.S. attorney’s office reserves the right to make that decision later if necessary, Mr. Phillips said. He declined to comment further.

According to an April 18 article in the New York Blade, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office said the circumstances did not warrant hate-crime status because the argument stemmed from “two young guys who were sizing each other up.”

Public affairs specialist Stephanie Bragg Lee said that the U.S. attorney’s office considers hate crimes on a case-by-case basis and that homophobic slurs do not necessarily elevate incidents to hate-crime status.

Calls to Steven J. McCool, who is representing Mr. Finnerty in the assault case, were not returned yesterday.

Last week, Mr. Finnerty and Duke teammate Reade Seligmann, 20, were indicted on charges of attacking an exotic dancer who was performing at a party held by the lacrosse team on March 13. Authorities say Mr. Finnerty and Mr. Seligmann were two of the three white men who the 27-year-old black woman says assaulted her.

The woman, a student at nearby North Carolina Central University and one of two dancers hired to perform, told police that three men pulled her into a bathroom and raped her.

On Monday, Mr. Seligmann’s attorney Kirk Osborn demanded that prosecutors turn over the accuser’s medical, legal and education records for use in challenging the woman’s credibility.

Mr. Osborn said the material will provide “rich sources of information for impeaching the complaining witnesses.” He also asked a judge to hold a pretrial hearing to “determine if the complaining witness is even credible enough to provide reliable testimony.”

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