- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 10, 2007

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The three men indicted in the Duke lacrosse sexual-assault case could learn this week whether state prosecutors plan to bring them to trial or drop the charges, a person close to the case said yesterday .

The attorney general’s office, which has said for several weeks that it was close to completing its investigation since taking the case from the district attorney, has wrapped up additional interviews, said the source, who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because a formal announcement has not been made.

A spokeswoman for the state attorney general’s office said yesterday that no announcement in the case was scheduled. No motions or court papers were filed in the case yesterday.

“There is some hope that there might be an answer from the attorney general this week at some point,” said lawyer Wade Smith, who represents player Collin Finnerty.

Mr. Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans were indicted on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual offense last spring after a woman told police that she was assaulted at a March 2006 team party at which she was hired to perform as a stripper. All three have steadfastly maintained their innocence, with Mr. Evans calling the accusations “fantastic lies.”

Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong dropped the rape charges in December after the accuser changed a key detail in her story and then he recused himself a few weeks later after the state bar charged him with several ethics violations tied to his handling of the case. If convicted, Mr. Nifong could be disbarred.

Mr. Nifong’s recusal put the players’ fate in the hands of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who promised “a fresh and thorough review of the facts” when he took over the case in January.

There were other signs yesterday that an announcement from Mr. Cooper might come soon. Mr. Seligmann, 21, of Essex Fells, N.J., and his family arrived at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and Mr. Smith said the Finnerty family was expected to arrive late last night from their home in Garden City, N.Y.

“We are not going to have any expectations until we hear officially,” Mr. Smith said. “When we get the word, we’ll have the word.”

Mr. Evans’ attorney, Joseph Cheshire, declined to comment when asked whether his client was planning to be in Raleigh today.

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