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Duke Player May Face Jail in Separate Case

Recent rape charges could revoke a deal that let him avoid trial in an alleged simple assault.

April 21, 2006|Peter Clark | Newsday

WASHINGTON — Collin H. Finnerty's court appearance for an alleged assault in Georgetown last year has been moved up to Tuesday, when the lacrosse player from Long Island will face the possibility of jail time because of allegations against him in the Duke University rape case.

The hearing is to determine if Finnerty's arrest this week and the accusations in North Carolina are enough to warrant a revocation of the agreement that allowed him to avoid a trial and possible jail time last year, said Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office here.

In the early morning of Nov. 5, Finnerty and two friends hurled anti-gay epithets at Jeffrey Bloxsom, leading to a fight in which Bloxsom suffered a cut lip and bruised chin, according to the police report. Bloxsom's lawyer said his client is not gay.

Finnerty, now 19, avoided charges by agreeing to participate in a "diversion program" for people in trouble with the law for the first time. Such programs call for the participant to do community service, pay restitution and stay out of trouble.

If these conditions are met, the case is expunged from the participant's record, although a record of the arrest remains, Phillips said.

Finnerty's next court appearance for the simple assault charge was initially scheduled for Sept. 25, but after his arrest for his alleged role in the Duke rape scandal, the District of Columbia Superior Court may decide to move forward with the prosecution, Phillips said.

If the agreement is revoked at the hearing, a trial date will be set and Finnerty could face up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of $1,000, according to Phillips.

Bloxsom does not want to talk to reporters, who have been waiting outside his Georgetown town house, according to a roommate interviewed Wednesday night.

Bloxsom's lawyer, Chip Royer, said in an interview Thursday, "This isn't about Jeff's sexuality, but is more of a commentary on how [Finnerty] sees the world."

When asked if Bloxsom would file a civil case against Finnerty, Royer said, "We are considering all of our options."

It is unclear what effect the simple assault case might have on the rape charges against Finnerty in North Carolina.

Finnerty's attorney could not be reached for comment.

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