05/29/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT
His two teammates had chosen the path of least resistance, slipping in and out of court last month without a public word. But when David Evans, 23, became the third member of the Duke University lacrosse team charged in the alleged rape of an exotic dancer, he turned the event into an angry indictment of the prosecution's case. "I am innocent," he declared, facing reporters in front of North Carolina's Durham County jail, flanked by his father, David, a lawyer, and mother, Rae, a Washington lobbyist. "You have all been told some fantastic lies, and I look forward to watching them unravel in the weeks to come."
Evans's head-on style didn't come as any surprise to those who knew him. "He's flown through life with flying colors by hard work and dedication," says Matt Ward, 23, who has been best friends with Evans since the third grade. So far, prosecutor Mike Nifong has done little to explain publicly why he believes the young men—including Reade Seligmann, 20, and Collin Finnerty, 19—are guilty. Defense attorneys, on other the hand, have attacked the accuser's credibility, arguing—among other things—that DNA from semen found in her body did not come from any of the players, and that she said the attacker she later identified as Evans had a mustache (Evans's lawyer says he has never had one).
Meanwhile the accuser's family says she still fears leaving her house. "She is a beautiful young lady," her mother, Mary, told CBS's 48 Hours. "She is a good girl."