- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A captain of the Duke University lacrosse team, David Evans of Bethesda, was indicted yesterday on charges of raping a woman at a party held by the players earlier this year.

Mr. Evans, 23, called the charges against him “fantastic lies” and defended two teammates who were charged last month.

“I am absolutely innocent of all the charges brought against me,” said Mr. Evans at a press conference outside the Durham County magistrate’s office in Durham, N.C. “These allegations are lies. Fabricated. And they will be proven wrong.”

As he spoke, Mr. Evans was surrounded by teammates, his attorney and his mother, Rae Evans, a Washington lobbyist who also serves as chairwoman of the Ladies Professional Golf Association board of directors.

Mr. Evans, who attended Landon School in Bethesda, was one of the three team captains who lived in the off-campus Durham home where the party was held on March 13. A 27-year-old student at nearby North Carolina Central University said that she and another woman were hired as strippers for the party and that she was raped by three white men.

Sophomores Collin Finnerty of Garden City, N.Y., and Reade Seligmann of Essex Falls, N.J., were indicted last month on the same charges as Mr. Evans was — first-degree forcible rape, sexual offense and kidnapping. Attorneys for those players have said that Mr. Finnerty and Mr. Seligmann are innocent and that DNA tests failed to connect any of the players at the party to the accuser.

District Attorney Mike Nifong said that he did not expect any more indictments in the case and that the three players facing charges were the only ones implicated by the evidence.

Mr. Evans told reporters that Mr. Finnerty and Mr. Seligmann are innocent. Mr. Evans’ attorney, Joseph Cheshire, said the accuser identified Mr. Evans with “90 percent certainty” during a photo identification lineup but said she told police that she would be fully certain whether Mr. Evans had a mustache. Mr. Cheshire said Mr. Evans has never had a mustache.

Mr. Cheshire also said some genetic material on a fake fingernail recovered from a bathroom trash can at the house had some of the same characteristics as Mr. Evans’ DNA, but he called it a link short of a conclusive match.

“These boys have been chopped up in the process,” Mr. Cheshire said. “They are victims. Their families are victims. This community is a victim, and the justice system is a victim.”

Mr. Evans said he helped police search the house for evidence, gave investigators access to his e-mail and instant-messenger accounts and offered to take a lie-detector test. Mr. Evans said police rejected that offer but said he later took one on his own and passed.

“I have done nothing wrong, and I am telling the truth,” he said.

Mr. Evans surrendered to police after the press conference and was released after posting a $400,000 bond. Mr. Evans was scheduled to make an appearance today, but Mr. Cheshire said he likely would waive it.

Mr. Evans played football and hockey at the private all-boys Landon School and helped the lacrosse team to a 56-2 record in three varsity seasons. At Duke, Mr. Evans was the Blue Devils’ co-defensive player of the year as a sophomore in 2004 and a three-time Atlantic Coast Conference academic honor-roll selection.

“He was an exemplary student and athlete,” said David M. Armstrong, the headmaster at Landon. “The allegations coming from Durham today are inconsistent with the character of the young man who attended our school.”

Mrs. Evans was elected chairwoman of the board of directors of the LPGA in May 2005. She has served on the board of directors of clothing manufacturer Haggar Corp. since 1994.

She is the president of the lobbying firm Evans Capitol Group, which she founded in January 2003.

According to the latest filings in February, Evans Capitol Group lobbied Congress on behalf of a number of organizations last year, including Hallmark Cards Inc., Hearst Corp., Newspaper Association of America and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Mr. Evans, an economics major, graduated on Sunday, and several students at the commencement ceremony wore the jersey numbers of Mr. Seligmann and Mr. Finnerty on their mortarboard caps.

The accusations have highlighted a schism between working-class Durham and affluent Duke. Racial, sex and socioeconomic overtones quickly permeated the case, as did the re-election effort of Mr. Nifong, who won a May 2 Democratic primary and does not face a Republican challenger in the November general election.

Duke officials suspended the team’s play in late March, and university President Richard H. Brodhead canceled the remainder of the season on April 5. The fallout of the accusations led to the resignation of veteran coach Mike Pressler.

Durham police previously cited Mr. Evans for possession of an open container in August and a violation of a noise ordinance and alcohol possession in January. Prosecutors said last week that Mr. Evans violated an agreement that would have dismissed those charges by playing host to the party. Instead, a judge reinstated the alcohol charge, Mr. Evans’ attorney entered a plea and Mr. Evans was fined $100 last week.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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