Bethesda Man Indicted in Duke Rape Case
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
DURHAM, N.C., May 15 -- A day after graduating from Duke University, a 23-year-old Bethesda man who is the co-captain of the school's lacrosse team was indicted Monday in the alleged attack on an exotic dancer hired to perform at a team party.
David Forker Evans became the third lacrosse player charged with raping the woman but the first to speak publicly. Before turning himself in to authorities here, Evan stood outside the Durham County Detention Facility and declared his innocence.
"You have all been told some fantastic lies," Evans, his voice forceful and steady, said in a news conference carried live on national television. "And I look forward to watching them unravel in the weeks to come as they already have in the weeks past, and the truth will come out."
The allegations of rape have tarnished Duke and provoked a fierce debate on class, collegiate sports, sex and race. The accuser is a 27-year-old single mother and a student at a small historically black college here. The young men who have been charged are white, well-off students at one of the nation's most elite universities.
Monday's indictment deepened the mystery surrounding the incident. Three athletes have now been charged in the alleged attack, and, after initially publicly declaring he was "certain" a crime had been committed, Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong has said little. In a statement Monday, he said he does not expect any more indictments in the case. DNA testing was performed on nearly all members of the lacrosse team, but defense lawyers have said there was no match between any player and vaginal swabs from the accuser.
Outside the jail, Evans said he welcomed the opportunity to speak out at last. Squarely facing the cameras, he was surrounded by defense lawyers; several of his teammates; his mother, Rae Evans, a Washington lobbyist and chairman of the Ladies Professional Golf Association board of directors; and his father, David Evans, a lawyer.
Evans insisted that the two other teammates charged -- Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., and Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y. -- are also innocent.
"These allegations are lies fabricated, and they will be proven wrong," Evans said.
Evans spent Sunday attending graduation ceremonies with his parents and knew in advance that his indictment was pending, said his attorney, Joseph B. Cheshire. Evans worked out and went for a run and then waited for the telephone to ring. "He's a very strong young man," Cheshire said after the news conference, while Evans and his family were posting a $400,000 bond.
Nifong has proceeded with the case despite two rounds of DNA testing that have found no matches between the accuser and the lacrosse players. The most recent results came back last week. Cheshire said that the tests show that DNA material taken from a vaginal swab of the accuser "does not match any Duke lacrosse player" but that the swab produced DNA from a "single male source."
The test results name the person matching the DNA, but he is not a member of the lacrosse team. "This woman did have sex with a male -- that male is named in the report," Cheshire said. He said DNA tests from a fake fingernail from the accuser show genetic material from "a number of people" and show that Evans cannot be eliminated.
In a photo lineup, the accuser said she was 90 percent sure that Evans was one of three men who assaulted her. Cheshire said a transcript from the lineup shows that the woman said, "Well, if he had the mustache he was wearing that night, I would be 100 percent sure." Cheshire said photographs of Evans before and after the party show that he was not wearing a mustache.
At one point, Cheshire's question-and-answer session with the media was disrupted by Durham resident Victoria Peterson, who said she wanted the lawyers to address whether the lacrosse team had asked for a specific race of exotic dancer to come to the house party in March, and brought up the racist comments neighbors reported hearing from the house. "You're being paid to spin this to make your boys sound innocent," said Peterson, who said she was with the Durham Citizens Against Rape and Sexual Abuse, a group that was formed after the accusations about the Duke lacrosse team arose.
Cheshire said, "I will agree they shouldn't have had that party that night," and he said the players shouldn't have hired the dancers.
Confusing and conflicting accounts have emerged from the party held in March. A lacrosse co-captain, not Evans, used a false name to hire two exotic dancers for a team party. The women were to be paid $400 each for two hours. The party was held at a Duke-owned house rented by the three lacrosse captains, including Evans. After dancing briefly at the party, the accuser claimed, she was taken into a bathroom and sexually assaulted by three men. According to a police report, medical records show the woman had injuries consistent with being raped vaginally and anally.
The scandal prompted the cancellation of Duke's lacrosse season, the resignation of its coach and the commissioning of a series of reports by Duke's president, Richard H. Brodhead, one of which brought condemnation of how Duke initially handled the rape allegations.
At Monday's news conference, Evans said he cooperated with police and helped crime-scene technicians gather evidence at the house. Initially he spoke with investigators without a lawyer present and voluntarily submitted DNA samples. As the investigation continued, Evans said that prosecutor Nifong showed no interest in hearing "my story, the true story."
Evans is a 2002 graduate of the Landon School, a $25,000-a-year boys preparatory academy in Bethesda, where he was co-captain of the football, hockey and lacrosse teams while a senior.
"The allegations coming from Durham today are inconsistent with the character of the young man who attended our school," said David M. Armstrong, Landon's headmaster, in a short statement released Monday. Armstrong called Evans an "exemplary student and athlete."
Evans graduated Sunday with a degree in economics. At Duke's commencement ceremonies, a handful of graduates wore the numbers 45 and 13 -- the jersey numbers of Seligmann and Finnerty -- on the tops of their mortarboards in an apparent show of support.
Adcock is a special correspondent, and Hull reported from Washington. Staff writers Christian Swezey and Cameron Barr and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report from Washington.