It was 6 o'clock at night and Kathy Seligmann was standing on the sidelines watching her twin 17-year-old boys play lacrosse when she got the call.
"It was Reade," she said, " 'Mom, promise me you'll be strong.' " She tried to brace herself, but couldn't believe the next words. "He said, 'Mom, she picked me.' "
And with that, her family's life was thrown into emotional turmoil.
With three other children to take care of, Kathy decided not to go to Durham, N.C., prior to the indictments. After all, she said, Reade hadn't stayed long at the party and so there was no reason to think he would be named. Phil Seligmann, Reade's father, made the drive to Durham as a precaution because the lawyers recommended every player have a family member there, just in case.
When she thinks back to that phone call, Kathy said Reade wasn't upset for himself. "He was so concerned about how I was doing. I mean, this kid's life was just ripped out of his hands and all he could worry about was whether I was OK."
His father says Reade was equally strong for him. When Phil got the news, he was with his son. "I went down on the floor. Just knocked off my feet. He picked me up and said, 'Everything is going to be all right.' "
The next few days were a nightmare for Kathy. Phil told her she needed to make sure she and the kids were out of the house by the time the news broke the next morning.
"We knew," Phil said, "the media would be everywhere."
Kathy says she spent 12 grueling hours keeping the news secret because the indictment was sealed. That night, she went home and packed. Before dawn the following morning, she, her twins, and her 14-year-old son drove to a nearby diner where they waited until the news broke. It was her birthday.
When the indictments became public, Kathy went to the house of a friend — a mother of another Duke Lacrosse player who had not been indicted. "I told her, 'I don't know where to go or who to turn to.' "
Every day since then has been a struggle.
"It's been hard on my other boys," she said. "I found my youngest son watching TV and crying hysterically the day they brought Reade in, in handcuffs. He looked at me and cried, 'Mom, why are they doing this?' To see this happen to your oldest son, and to see your youngest son's reaction, is just heart breaking."
Reade, his parents say, has always been one his younger brothers looked up to the most: as a star athlete and excellent student, he seemed to have it all.
His mother told a story of how, as a little league football player in grade school, his coach wanted him to pull a 'dirty move' on the other team: "I remember looking at him on the field and he was shaking his head 'No' at the coach, and the coach was yelling at him. After the game, I told him, 'Don't you ever disobey a coach, ever!' and he looked at me and said, 'Mom, if you knew what he was asking me to do, you wouldn't say that.' That's the kind of person he's always been. ... Since he was small he would stick up for other kids that were getting picked on."
Reade's parents invited me to their home in Essex Fells, N.J., to meet them and their four boys, including Reade. We agreed to talk about how this case has affected their family and while the entire conversation was on-record, they requested there not be any cameras present.
They live in an upscale neighborhood in a large brick lived-in (they have four boys) home. Kathy, a stay-at-home mom, and Phil, an investor, both grew up in New Jersey. They say they've had their share of struggles — both lost a parent at an early age.
The Seligmanns told me they've been through some tough times recently including failed businesses and a break-in and robbery. They say their lifestyle is the result of hard work.
"Everything we have," Kathy said, "goes to our kids." When it came time to post the $400,000 bond for Reade, Phil had to ask a friend for help. "We just don't have that kind of cash," he said.
The Seligmanns showed me four scrapbooks with Reade's newspaper clippings. They knew early on that he would be an excellent athlete. "But it was more than that," his mother says, "he was the hardest working kid I've ever seen. He always pushed himself." They say Reade had his pick of colleges — for football or lacrosse. "But," Kathy says, "he chose Duke."