Duke suspends accused lacrosse players, source says
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DURHAM, North Carolina (CNN) -- Duke University has suspended two of its lacrosse players who were arrested Tuesday on rape and kidnapping charges, a source familiar with the investigation said Wednesday.
The suspension is effective until the case is resolved, the source said.
Reade Seligmann, 20, and Collin Finnerty, 19, are charged with raping an exotic dancer the Blue Devil lacrosse team hired to entertain at an off-campus party on March 13. Seligmann and Finnerty are each charged with first-degree sexual offense, first-degree forcible rape and first-degree kidnapping. (Watch what neighbor says about suspect -- 2:26)
Attorneys for Finnerty and Seligmann have maintained their clients are innocent.
Each has posted $400,000 bail and has been released, according to The Associated Press. (Watch as defense attorneys give a timeline of the night of the alleged crime -- 2:45)
Finnerty's attorney, Bill Cotter, said his client had returned home to New York, and police have searched his dorm room.
A student living in Finnerty's dorm said police came to Finnerty's and Seligmann's rooms Tuesday evening.
A woman in the Duke press office would not confirm the suspensions, but said, "Historically, it has been the university's practice to issue an interim suspension when a student is charged with a felony or when the student's presence on the campus may create an unsafe situation."
According to a Web site that Duke set up to address questions about the case, when a student faces serious criminal charges, the university can wait, usually at a student's request, to implement its disciplinary process until the case is resolved through the court system. The site adds, "In such an instance, interim actions may be taken."
Prosecutors had hoped for a third arrest Tuesday, but District Attorney Mike Nifong said "the evidence available to me at this moment does not permit that."
Finnerty and Seligmann are scheduled to appear in court May 15. The prosecution must hand over its evidence to the defense at that time.
Sources close to the investigation have said that the two men are innocent and that they weren't at the party at the time of the alleged assault.
The defense will present evidence that a cab driver took one of the students to an ATM, where his photo was captured on a security camera, and that the other lacrosse player was at a restaurant, the sources said.
A medical examination of the 27-year-old woman showed signs consistent with sexual assault, but DNA samples taken from the players failed to match material collected by investigators, according to court documents and the defense lawyers in the case.
The defense attorneys also said photographs taken at the party show the woman was injured before she arrived.
The university has canceled the remainder of the lacrosse season, and head coach Mike Pressler resigned after 16 years. Duke last year reached the national finals, losing 9-8 to Johns Hopkins University.
Pressler stepped down amid comments by university President Richard Brodhead, indicating there was a "history of boorish behavior and underage drinking" among players.
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