Junior goalie Dan
Loftus and his brother, Chris, a sophomore attackman, grew up in Syosset, Long
Island, sons of Barbara and Brian, a retired New York City fireman who worked
36 straight hours at the World Trade Center immediately after the attacks on
Sept. 11. "I thought that was the worst day of my life," Brian says.
"You want to know something? This is the worst thing."
Like most of the
parents, the Loftuses had grilled their sons. "How many times did I say to
him on the phone? 'Danny, did anything happen?'" Brian Loftus says to
Barbara one weekend in May. "I asked him 10 times. He goes, 'No, no, no,
"This is not a
time to lie and cover up for your friends!" Barbara remembers chiming in.
"Did anything happen?"
weekend, convinced of their sons' innocence but terrified it wouldn't matter,
"we sat here like zombies," Brian says. "I didn't want to talk to
Ken Sauer, another
retired New York City fireman, whose son, K.J., was a senior midfielder, spent
Sunday at home in East Rockaway, N.Y., trying to figure out how to scrape up
the money if his son needed to make bond. He looked into flights to Durham. In
a suitcase he packed clothes, toiletries, the deed to his house. He watched the
news and waited for the phone to ring.
usually dependent on each other for news and support, didn't call each other
much that weekend, but word had been passed that the wealthier families would
ensure that no player would stay locked up--an indication of how the world of
top-level lacrosse is different from that of, say, basketball. But for all its
obvious elitism, lacrosse culture is also, in a sense, a meritocracy. If you
can play, you're in. That's how the sons of firemen get steered into jobs on
Wall Street. "Without a scholarship I couldn't blink an eye at this
place," says Carroll, another retired fireman's son from Long Island, who's
the first in his family to go to college. "There are a lot of kids on the
team with a lot of money. I come from a completely different world. I'm just
grateful: Now maybe I can help my family out."
Maybe. Some recent
grads are said to have deleted the words Duke lacrosse from their r�sum�s, and
others are wondering if they should too. "Every lacrosse coach came into my
house, they all had the same line. The [Johns] Hopkins guy, the Princeton guy:
'You're not coming to our school for four years, you're coming for the next
40,'" says Brian Loftus. "And they'll tell you they own Morgan Stanley
or Dean Witter: 'We network.' Six months ago, going to Duke and playing
lacrosse, you're going to get a job. Things are going to be good for you. Now?
You're going to fight that the rest of your life."
On the day after
Easter, Brian and Dan went to a lacrosse game at Dan's old high school but sat
with the opposition crowd to avoid questions. At 3 p.m. Brian's cellphone rang.
He left Dan in the stands so he could hear better. During the five minutes
Brian was gone, Dan's stomach started to jump. Is it bad? What's taking so
Finally, he saw
his father coming back. For the first time in days, Brian smiled. He gave his
son a small hug. But the news he'd received, that Seligmann and Finnerty had
just been indicted, brought little joy. A third indictment loomed, and there is
no minimizing a rape charge. "They are ruined for life," says Nina Zash
of the three defendants, and that's the reason her son feels no relief.
"It was a
lottery drawing," Matt Zash says. "We know it could be any one of