Accuser in Duke lacrosse case wanted money, man says

Staff WritersNovember 4, 2006 

— Four days after she said she was raped, the accuser in the Duke lacrosse case told co-workers at a Hillsborough strip club that she was going to get money from some boys at a Duke party who hadn't paid her, the club's former security manager said.

"She basically said, 'I'm going to get paid by the white boys,' " H.P. Thomas, the former security manager at the Platinum Club, said in an interview Friday. "I said, 'Whatever,' because no one takes her seriously."

On March 14, the woman said she was assaulted and raped by three men at a lacrosse team party that began late on the night of March 13. Three players -- David Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md.; Collin Finnerty, 20, of Garden City, N.Y.; and Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells N.J. -- have been charged with rape, sexual assault and kidnapping. All three have declared their innocence and called the accusations lies.

Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong declined to comment on Thomas' recollections. Thomas said he had not previously come forward on the advice of lawyers.

Nifong has said in court that nearly a month after the party, the woman was in his office and appeared too traumatized to talk about what had happened to her. Nifong said that throughout the April 11 meeting with Nifong and police investigators, the woman seemed near tears and had trouble making eye contact.

But less than a week after the party, Thomas said, the woman seemed fine, and weeks later, he realized a friend of his had a video of her dancing at the club in the early hours of March 26.

The accuser never gave any indication that the party was a bad time, let alone that she was assaulted or raped, Thomas said.

"She was as regular as pie," Thomas said. "She didn't do anything different."

The News & Observer generally does not identify the complainants in sexual assault cases. The woman could not be located for comment Friday.

On March 17, the woman showed Thomas a hospital bracelet and paperwork. While she talked about being owed money, the accuser never gave any word or indication of being hurt, he said.

"The other girls would have known if something had happened," Thomas said. "If another dancer had been beat up or raped by a bunch of white boys, there would have been a ruckus."

Records show she had been seen at Duke and UNC Hospitals on March 14 and 15.

Thomas said dancers must sign in when they take guests into the club's VIP room. He said those sheets show that the woman had signed in March 17 and 18. He said she also danced the following weekend.

The club's owner, Victor Olatoye, said the club's records show the woman was dancing at the club March 23, 24, 25 and into the early hours of March 26. Olatoye has no record of her working the previous weekend.

Olatoye said he had given a sworn statement to an investigator in Nifong's office last month initially saying that he had not seen the woman since February.

That night at the club, Olatoye checked his records and called the investigator back to change his sworn statement.

Olatoye said he has not seen the woman since March.

Thomas said he worked as security manager at the club from January through April. He said he had little to gain by coming forward because of a pending cocaine possession charge.

Staff writer Joseph Neff can be reached at 829-4516 or jneff@newsobserver.com.

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