The third lacrosse player indicted in the Duke University rape investigation, David F. Evans of Bethesda, became the first to face the news media yesterday. Stepping up to a row of microphones, with his mother and father behind him, he proclaimed: "You have all been told some fantastic lies."
The graduate of the private Landon School, whom coaches remember for his toughness, was charged yesterday with first-degree forcible rape, sexual offense and kidnapping. Those were the same charges lodged against Duke teammates Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann last month, stemming from an exotic dancer's accusation that she was raped March 13 at an off-campus house rented by Evans and two other lacrosse co-captains.
Unlike his teammates, Evans chose to publicly address the charges himself. His father stood behind him, as did his mother, a prominent Washington lobbyist who chairs the Ladies Professional Golf Association board of directors. Rae F. Evans wore an oversized button on her jacket that said "Duke Lacrosse" on the top and featured her son's name and picture.
"These allegations are lies - fabricated, and they will be proven wrong," David Evans, 23, said at the televised news conference in Durham, N.C. Wearing a button-down shirt and dark slacks, he spoke forcefully but not angrily. Evans, who graduated Sunday from Duke, asserted his innocence as well as that of other players, some of whom attended the news conference to support him.
Evans graduated in 2002 from Landon, an all-boys school in Bethesda where tuition is about $25,000 a year. He was a captain of the lacrosse, football and ice hockey teams, said his lacrosse coach, Rob Bordley.
Evans was a member of one of Landon's best-ever lacrosse teams, the 2002 squad that went 20-0. He was rugged enough, Bordley said, to have once played a game with pneumonia, an experience that left the player wheezing and sent him to the hospital that night.
"David called me last night just to give me a heads-up that he was going to be indicted today, and that itself, to me, is awfully revealing," Bordley said yesterday. "He wanted me to know that I was going to get a lot of calls, and he assured me again ... that this attack did not take place and that obviously he had not been a party to it."
Evans' mother is founder of a Washington-based lobbying and consulting firm. Gossip columns have noted her friendship with Marilyn Quayle, wife of former Vice President Dan Quayle.
The Evanses appear to have two residences. The family lives in Washington, according to a biography on the LPGA Web site. They also have a house in an Annapolis waterfront community. The lacrosse player's father, attorney David C. Evans, lists memberships in the Annapolis Yacht Club and the Chevy Chase Club, just outside Washington.
The lacrosse scandal has rocked the Duke campus and caused upheaval in racially mixed Durham. The case has a racial component because the accuser, a 27-year-old student at nearby North Carolina Central University, is black and nearly all of the lacrosse team is white.
"One of the saddest things I've seen in this case is that some members of the minority community do not seem willing to give those boys a fair shake," said Evans' attorney, Joseph Cheshire.
The university suspended the team's season in March because of underage drinking and other behavior at the March 13 party at which the rape allegedly occurred.
Yesterday's charges were filed after the accuser identified Evans from a photo lineup, expressing 90 percent certainty that he had attacked her. But Cheshire said, "She then was asked if she was sure, and she said, 'Well, if he had the mustache that he was wearing the night of the attack, I would be 100 percent sure.'"
Cheshire said he could produce evidence indicating that Evans has never had a mustache.
District Attorney Mike Nifong has declined to comment on the case since charges were filed last month against the first two Duke players. He did issue a statement indicating that no other indictments were expected.
It is unclear how much Nifong is relying on DNA evidence in Evans' case. Cheshire said yesterday that there was a weak DNA match. He said it could not be ruled out that a plastic fingernail found in a trash can might have contained Evans' DNA.
The accuser had told police that she scratched at her attackers.
But Cheshire said the DNA evidence "shows no conclusive match to any Duke lacrosse player" and suggested that the evidence may have been tainted because there were "numerous items" belonging to Evans in the trash can.
"That, according to our experts, is about as weak a DNA analysis as you could ever have," Cheshire said.
Evans was released after posting $400,000 bond.
At Landon yesterday, reporters tried to catch glimpses of players and coaches as they prepared for their biggest game of the season today against Georgetown Prep.
On the 75-acre campus, coaches and alumni described Evans as an exemplary student who was not the most talented athlete but was "hard-nosed."
"It doesn't surprise me that he looked right into the camera. That's representative of how we were brought up here. You tell the truth," said former Landon lacrosse player Will MacDonald.
Said assistant coach John Shooshan: "I'll stake my reputation and my coaching career on David Evans' character and his innocence. If he's found guilty, then I've misjudged one of the best kids I've ever coached, and I'll hang it up and step out of coaching for good."