May 15, 2006 01:00 PM

A third member of Duke University’s lacrosse team was indicted Monday in the alleged sexual assault of a woman at an off-campus team party on March 13.

Team captain David Evans, 23, a senior from Bethesda, Md., faces charges of first-degree forcible rape, sexual offense and kidnapping, as do sophomores Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., and Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., who were charged last month.

In a statement outside the Durham County magistrate’s office Monday afternoon, Evans said, “I am absolutely innocent of all the charges that were brought against me today.” He also said that Seligmann and Finnerty were innocent. “These allegations are lies and they will be proven wrong.”

Evans said he cooperated with police from the beginning and tried to provide the district attorney with exculpatory evidence, but was denied. He also said he’d passed an independent polygraph test and was looking forward to seeing his name cleared. “You have all been told some fantastic lies,” he said. “The truth will come out.”

The charges stem from allegations by a 27-year-old black student at nearby North Carolina Central University, who told police she was raped and beaten by three white men after she and another woman were hired as strippers at an off-campus team party.

Evans lived in the house where the party was held. He has in the past been cited for a noise ordinance violation and alcohol possession.

After Evans made his statement on Monday, his attorney, Joe Cheshire, pointed out that prosecutors have failed to find DNA evidence linking any of the suspects to the accuser.

Still, the allegations have had far-reaching repercussions. Duke has canceled the lacrosse team’s season and accepted the resignation of coach Mike Pressler. In addition, university president Richard Brodhead initiated a series of internal investigations, one of which concluded that administrators reacted too slowly to the scandal, in part because of initial doubts about the accuser’s credibility.

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