Thursday, August 07, 2008
FODU on Brodhead, the Giuliani Case
Jason Trumpbour's latest post.
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"I am, however, troubled by some things Mr. Cooney had to say in two articles in yesterday’s Herald-Sun....."
Thank you, Jason.
Seligmann unaware of Duke help
By Ray Gronberg : The Herald-Sun
Aug 7, 2008
DURHAM -- If Duke University President Richard Brodhead indeed helped Reade Seligmann transfer to Brown University last year, he did so largely without the exonerated lacrosse player's knowledge, Seligmann and one of his civil lawyers say.
Seligmann "knows of no support that Brodhead gave him at Brown," lawyer Richard Emery said Wednesday after his office e-mailed a statement from his client to The Herald-Sun. "Whether that happened behind his back, he can't be sure. It may have happened, but he doesn't know about it."
Emery's comments, and Seligmann's parallel statement, came a day after the player's Charlotte-based former criminal-defense attorney, Jim Cooney, told The Herald-Sun that Brodhead had helped Seligmann transfer by lobbying officials at other schools and writing letters of support.
Cooney said Brodhead went "out of his way to talk to the right people" and that Seligmann "wouldn't have ended up at Brown" unless the Duke president had.
In the statement Emery's office released Wednesday, Seligmann said it's his "clear recollection" that one of the last two times Brodhead communicated with him or his family was to wish them happy holidays late in 2006.
The Duke president also called to say he'd reinstated Seligmann at Duke, Seligmann said, without specifying when that occurred. Duke formally announced the reinstatement on Jan. 3, 2007.
Paralleling Cooney's comments, Seligmann said he was "aware of one letter I was told Mr. Brodhead wrote on my behalf," though neither he nor his family had ever seen it.
Emery said Seligmann doesn't know what the letter said, who received it or even if it went to officials at Brown.
"Nobody ever communicated to him anything specific about any letter," Emery said. "There was some general knowledge that Brodhead was writing a letter to assertively help him. But [that knowledge] was very general and very vague."
Emery, who's based in New York City, also said he and Seligmann "have no knowledge, one way or another," to say whether Brodhead did or didn't make any calls on the student's behalf.
The lawyer added that he thinks Duke should help "set the record straight" by opening its records on the matter.
If Duke officials have any inclination to do so, they didn't signal that on Wednesday.
"Student privacy laws constrain us from discussing such matters," school spokesman Keith Lawrence said after consulting other administrators.
Professors, administrators and others in the world of academia usually handle recommendations for students confidentially. Among other things, students almost never see the contents of letters written on their behalf.
Emery and Seligmann didn't question Cooney's Tuesday comment that Duke officials had encouraged him to join the player's defense team in the fall of 2006. Seligmann at the time was facing rape charges with teammates David Evans and Collin Finnerty.
"That's nothing we dispute. If Jim says it, it's true," Emery said when asked about the point. "No question, he's very accurate generally. He may be totally accurate. It's just that we've never had indications."
He added it's possible there were "conversations that Reade and his family in the turbulence of [that] time don't remember." The statement Emery's office released also said the Seligmann family "remains close friends with Mr. Cooney."
Cooney joined Seligmann's defense team in October 2006, at the request the month before of Evans defense lawyer Joe Cheshire and the encouragement of officials at Duke. Cooney had previously turned down a similar request from Cheshire in May 2006.
The school had to give Cooney permission to represent Seligmann because Cooney's law firm, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, numbers Duke as a client.
Once again, Jason cuts through the rhetoric and lays out the case with precision. His actions in this case were invaluable, much more important than I think people realize.
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