Team captain becomes third player charged in the Duke rape scandal

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

DURHAM, N.C. -- A Duke University lacrosse team captain became the third player indicted in the rape scandal Monday and the first to speak out, blasting the charges against him as "fantastic lies."

"I look forward to watching them unravel in the weeks to come," said David Evans, a just-graduated 23-year-old from Bethesda, Md., who was one of four team captains.

At a news conference, Evans was backed by other players and his mother, Rae Evans, who is the chairwoman of the Ladies Professional Golf Association of Directors and founder and president of Evans Capitol Group, a Washington lobbying firm.

The charges followed a March 13 party at an off-campus house, where a 27-year-old black student at nearby North Carolina Central University told police she was raped and beaten by three white men after she and another woman were hired as strippers.

Evans also proclaimed the innocence of sophomores Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., and Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., who were indicted last month on the same charges.

An assistant in District Attorney Mike Nifong's office said he would not have any immediate comment on the charges.

Defense attorneys have insisted all the players are innocent, citing DNA tests they say found no match between any of the team's white players and the accuser.

Evans' attorney, Joseph Cheshire, said the accuser identified Evans with "90 percent certainty" during a photo lineup. Cheshire said the accuser told police she would be 100 percent sure if Evans had a mustache -- something he said his client has never had.

Evans turned himself in after the news conference. Cheshire said he expected his client to be released later Monday.

Evans, who lived at the house where the party was held, was indicted on charges of first-degree forcible rape, sexual offense and kidnapping. In the past, he had been cited for a noise ordinance violation and alcohol possession.

He said that he and his roommates helped police find evidence at the house, and that he gave investigators access to his e-mail and instant messenger accounts. He said that his offer to take a lie-detector test was rejected by authorities, and that he later took one on his own and passed.

"You have all been told some fantastic lies," he said at the news conference.

Evans attended the Landon School, a prep school in suburban Washington, where he also played football and hockey and led the lacrosse team to a three-year record of 56-2. He is one of five members of the Duke lacrosse team to graduate from the Landon School.

After the woman reported the attack, Duke canceled the rest of the lacrosse team's season and accepted the resignation of its coach.

Duke President Richard Brodhead initiated a series of investigations, one of which concluded administrators were slow to react to the scandal in part because of initial doubts about the accuser's credibility.

Last week, Evans lost a deal that would have kept him from being charged with old alcohol and noise violations after prosecutors said he had violated the terms of the agreement by hosting the party.

Prosecutors had agreed to deferred prosecution on an August 2005 charge of having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, and a January charge of violating the city's noise ordinance. The state had agreed to dismiss the charges if Evans completed community service, paid court costs and stayed out of trouble.

A judge reinstated the alcohol charge, Evans' attorney entered a plea on his behalf, and the student was fined $100.

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