DURHAM, N.C. -- In a 24-hour span, Duke University lacrosse
captain David Evans received both a bachelor's degree and an
indictment naming him as the third player charged with sexually assaulting an exotic dancer at a team party.
Monday, minutes before turning himself in to authorities, the
clean-cut athlete stood up and loudly proclaimed that he and the
rest of his teammates were innocent of allegations he labeled
"I look forward to watching them unravel in the weeks to
come," said the 23-year-old economics major from Bethesda, Md.
"I am innocent. Reade Seligmann is innocent. Collin Finnerty is
innocent," Evans said, defending the two other players charged.
"Every member of the Duke lacrosse team is innocent. ... You have
all been told some fantastic lies.
"I'll gladly stand up to anything that comes against me. I've
never had my character questioned before. Anyone who's met me knows
this didn't happen."
Evans, who lived at the house where the party was held, was
indicted on charges of first-degree forcible rape, sexual offense
and kidnapping. Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., and Finnerty,
19, of Garden City, N.Y., were indicted last month on the same
Evans turned himself in and was released after posting a
$400,000 bond. He was scheduled to make a
first appearance in court Tuesday, but his attorneys waived the
hearing. His next court date is the week of June 19.
Along with several lacrosse players, Evans was backed at his
news conference by his family, including mother Rae Evans, a
Washington lobbyist who is also the chairwoman of the Ladies
Professional Golf Association board of directors.
Evans 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.
"I have told the truth from the beginning," he said.
Evans' indictment appeared to cap the investigation into allegations
that three white men raped a 27-year-old black woman who is a student at
nearby North Carolina Central University. She and another woman
were hired to strip at a March 13 team party. Hours after Evans
spoke outside the Durham County jail, District Attorney Mike Nifong
said he did not expect any more indictments.
Defense attorneys insist no sexual assault occurred at the
party. They pointed to DNA tests, which they have said found no
conclusive match between any of the team's white players and the
"We will prove that not only did this rape not happen, but it
could not have happened," said Evans' attorney, Joseph Cheshire.
"This is one of the saddest days for justice in the state of
North Carolina," he said. "This case has been taken out to the
news media before an investigation was finished by a person who was
seeking public office."
Cheshire said the accuser had 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.
Cheshire said some genetic material on a fake fingernail
recovered from a bathroom trash can at the house did have some of
the same characteristics as Evans' DNA, but called it a link short
of a conclusive match.
Evans, an economics major who graduated Sunday, came to Duke
from 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 was an exemplary student and athlete," David M. Armstrong,
the school's headmaster, said in a statement. "The allegations
coming from Durham today are inconsistent with the character of the
young man who attended our school."
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
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.