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Duke Lacrosse Witness Spins Story For Advantage

It sure looks like the "second stripper" is changing her story for favorable treatment from the DA and a shot at fame and fortune.

From the DNC's Associated Press:

Kim Roberts answers questions during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in Raleigh, N.C., Friday, April 21, 2006. Roberts was the second exotic dancer at a Duke lacrosse team party at which another stripper claims she was raped.

2nd Stripper From Duke Lacrosse Party Offers Her Account

April 21, 2006

DURHAM, N.C., April 21 (AP) — A stripper who performed at a Duke University lacrosse team party initially doubted the story of a colleague who told the police she had been dragged into a bathroom and raped.

Now, the woman, Kim Roberts, is not so sure.

"I was not in the bathroom when it happened, so I can't say a rape occurred — and I never will," Ms. Roberts told The Associated Press on Thursday in her first on-the-record interview. But after watching defense attorneys release photos of the accuser, and upset by the leaking of both dancers' criminal records, she said of the lacrosse players that she had to "wonder about their character."

"In all honesty, I think they're guilty," Ms. Roberts said. "And I can't say which ones are guilty."

She added: "Somebody did something besides underage drinking. That's my honest-to-God impression."

Attorneys for the 46 players have asserted the players' innocence, citing DNA tests and photos from the party.

The photos, the defense maintains, show the accuser was both injured and impaired when she arrived at the party, and also support the claim that one of the two players who has been indicted would not have had enough time to participate in any assault before he left the party. The district attorney has said a third suspect in the case may also be charged.

Ms. Roberts told a member of the defense team that she did not believe her colleague's rape accusations, defense attorneys said. They said Ms. Roberts was now changing her story to gain favorable treatment in a criminal case against her. They added that she had e-mailed a New York public relations firm, asking for advice on "how to spin this to my advantage."

Ms. Roberts, 31, was arrested on March 22 — eight days after the party — on a probation violation from a 2001 conviction for embezzling $25,000 from a photofinishing company in Durham where she was a payroll specialist, according to documents obtained by The A.P.

On Monday, the same day a grand jury indicted two lacrosse players, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, a judge agreed to a change so that Ms. Roberts would no longer have to pay a 15 percent fee to a bonding agent. District Attorney Mike Nifong signed a document saying he would not oppose the change.

"It seems she is receiving very favorable financial treatment for what she is now saying," said Bill Thomas, an attorney for a lacrosse player who has not been charged in the case.

Mark Simeon, Ms. Roberts's attorney, said the bond conditions had been changed because his client was not considered a flight risk. Mr. Nifong, who has not spoken with reporters about the case in weeks, did not return a call seeking comment.

Ms. Roberts's testimony could be vital in any trial of Mr. Seligmann and Mr. Finnerty, who have been indicted on charges of first-degree rape, sexual offense and kidnapping.

Other than lacrosse players and the accuser, a 27-year-old student at a nearby university, Ms. Roberts is believed to be the only other person who was at the March 13 party.

Ms. Roberts said Thursday that she did not remember Mr. Seligmann's face, but that she recalled seeing Mr. Finnerty.

"I was looking him right in the eyes," she said.

Ms. Roberts declined to talk extensively about the party, but she did confirm some of the details the other dancer told the police, including that the women left the party after one of the players threatened to sodomize them with a broomstick.

The accuser told the police that the women had been coaxed back into the house with an apology, then they were separated and she was dragged into a bathroom and sexually assaulted for a half-hour.

Later, the 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. Ms. Roberts acknowledged that she had made the call because she was angry.

Ms. Roberts, who had driven herself to the party, said that she could have left anytime but that she "didn't want to leave her with them."

Afterward, Ms. Roberts drove the accuser to a grocery and asked a security guard to call 911. The accuser was described later by a police officer as "just passed-out drunk."

Ms. Roberts said the woman, whom she had just met that night, was sober when they arrived at the house. But by the time the party was over, she said the accuser was too incoherent to tell her where she lived, let alone that she had been raped.

"I didn't do enough," Ms. Roberts said, tears welling in her eyes. "I didn't do enough. I didn't do enough."

The defense timeline is backed up by a cabdriver who said Mr. Seligmann called for a ride at 12:14 a.m., and was picked up five minutes later. The defense argues that if the dancers were performing around midnight, Mr. Seligmann would not have had enough time to participate in the 30-minute assault described by the accuser.

The cabbie, Moez Mostafa, also said he had seen a woman leaving the party in anger, and had overheard someone say, "She just a stripper. She's going to call the police."

"She looked, like, mad," Mr. Mostafa said of the woman. "In her face, the way she walked, the way she talked, she looked like mad."

On Thursday, authorities released warrants detailing their search earlier this week of Mr. Finnerty's and Mr. Seligmann's dormitory rooms. The police removed a newspaper article and an envelope addressed to Mr. Finnerty from his room, and an iPod, various accessories, computer manuals, photos and a CD from Mr. Seligmann's room.

Also Thursday, 5W Public Relations, a New York firm that specializes in "crisis communication," distributed an e-mail signed "The 2nd Dancer," and Ms. Roberts confirmed she had sent it after learning that The AP knew her identity.

"I've found myself in the center of one of the biggest stories in the country," she wrote. "I'm worried about letting this opportunity pass me by without making the best of it and was wondering if you had any advice as to how to spin this to my advantage."

Ronn Torossian, president of 5W', said he had replied, but had not received a response.

Ms. Roberts said that she knew what it was like to be in jail and that she would never wrongly accuse an innocent person.

"If the boys are innocent, sorry fellas," she said. "Sorry you had to go through this."

But unlike her and the accuser, she said, they have money to hire the best attorneys.

"If they're innocent, they will not go to jail," she said. But, she added, "If the truth is on their side, why are they supporting it with so many lies?"

She sounds like a very reliable witness, doesn't she?

Tellingly either the New York Times or the AP edited out these parts [in bold] from the original version of the interview:

Ronn Torossian, 5W’s president, said he replied, but got no response.

“If this person is indeed who they say they are, I would be happy to speak with her,” said Torossian, whose firm has represented the likes of Sean “Diddy” Combs, Ice Cube and Lil’ Kim.

Roberts, like the accuser a divorced single mother who is black, took umbrage at the notion that she should not try to make something out of her experience. She’s worried that once her name and criminal record are public, no one will want to hire her.

“Why shouldn’t I profit from it?” she asked. “I didn’t ask to be in this position … I would like to feed my daughter.”

Roberts said she knows what it’s like to sit in jail, and that she would never wrongly accuse an innocent person.

“If the boys are innocent, sorry fellas,” she said. “Sorry you had to go through this.”

But unlike her and the other dancer, she said, they have money to hire the best attorneys.

“If they’re innocent, they will not go to jail,” she said. But, she added, “If the truth is on their side, why are they supporting it with so many lies?”

Roberts is bracing for an all-out attack, but said she’s almost past caring.

“Don’t forget that they called me a damn nigger,” she said. “She (the accuser) was passed out in the car. She doesn’t know what she was called. I was called that. I can never forget that.”

I guess they didn't want to make Ms. Roberts look bad.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, April 21st, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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