After those experiences, Finnerty, the most reserved of the defendants, understood that he would never completely escape the case.

"It's a huge part of all of our lives. There's no escaping it," Kevin Finnerty said.

But the Finnertys, from Garden City, N.Y., decided to do everything possible to provide Collin normality - at least as much as is possible. He received more than 100 well-wishing letters from strangers before the charges were dropped.

"We get numerous media requests and we, as a matter of course, turn them down," Finnerty's father said. "Collin is not spending time with the media, and that is the chosen course. He's had more media exposure than someone his age should have."

Finnerty's biography in the Loyola media guide makes no mention of the criminal case.

Seeking normality
The desire for normality led Finnerty to decline Loyola's offer to begin school last summer instead of in the fall. His studies had been interrupted because of the case, although he did take courses at Hofstra while on leave from Duke.

Finnerty decided to enroll in the fall because that was when most of his peers would be arriving. He has expressed interest in studying business. His father said Collin, along with Evans and Seligmann, are involved in establishing a foundation that will aid defendants wrongly accused. "There will be positive things that will come out of this," Kevin Finnerty said.

Toomey said the school will soon ask the NCAA for a ruling to ensure that Finnerty, who sat out the 2007 season while his case was investigated, receives an extra year of eligibility, allowing him to play three years for the Greyhounds. The NCAA had already granted one extra year of eligibility to Finnerty and the other 32 Duke lacrosse team members whose 2006 season was canceled in the wake of rape allegations.

Finnerty, a lanky, 6-foot-3 attackman, declined to be interviewed for this article.

After so many media interview requests about his criminal case, Toomey said Finnerty wants to talk about the same subjects as his Loyola teammates.

"He says, 'Let me go out and play a great game and then talk about lacrosse like everyone else,' " the coach said.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com