Polygraph expert: Duke player told truth

Statements tested by ex-FBI agent

Staff WritersMay 17, 2006 

— A former FBI polygraph expert said a Duke lacrosse team captain was telling the truth when the player said that neither he nor anyone else at a Duke lacrosse party sexually assaulted an escort service dancer.

Attorneys for David Evans made the results of the April 21 polygraph test public Tuesday, one day after a Durham County grand jury charged Evans with rape, sexual assault and kidnapping.

"This examination strongly supports the truthfulness of Mr. Evans," wrote Robert Drdak, the FBI's senior polygraph examiner in North Carolina from 1988 to 1999.

Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md., answered "no" to questions posed by Drdak: Did he sexually assault the dancer at the March 13 party? Did he see or hear anything to indicate the dancer had been assaulted?

A FBI agent for 28 years, Drdak has conducted more than 2,000 polygraph examinations and specialized in the monitoring of sexual offenders, according to his resume.

The results of polygraph tests are not admissible as evidence in North Carolina courts. The tests' reliability is a matter of scientific debate.

However, police and prosecutors routinely use the tests as an investigative tool to screen witnesses for reliability.

District Attorney Mike Nifong did not respond to a phone message Tuesday afternoon.

DNA tests could not exclude Evans from suspicion in the case, and the accuser picked him out with "90 percent" certainty.

Evans' attorneys have already attacked that evidence as unfair and unreliable, but it is unknown what other evidence, if any, Nifong has in the case.

Evans' indictment followed those last month of Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., and Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y. They are accused of raping the woman in a bathroom at the 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. house shared by Evans and two other team captains.

The polygraph results are unlikely to change Nifong's decision to go forward with the case, but Evans and his attorneys say they help prove that no rape occurred at the party.

"I passed that polygraph for the same reason that I will be acquitted of all these charges. Because I have done nothing wrong, and I am telling the truth, and I have been telling the truth from day one," Evans said Monday, just before he surrendered to authorities at the Durham County jail.

Evans told reporters at the news conference that he had cooperated with police when they served a search warrant on his house March 16, three days after the party. Evans said he and his roommates helped police find evidence and then went to the police station without a lawyer. Evans said he gave police a statement and a DNA sample and gave them access to his e-mail and instant messaging account.

"After that, I asked to take a polygraph which was refused by the Durham Police Department," Evans said.

Evans said prosecutors have refused to talk to him despite repeated attempts by his attorneys. Nifong and defense attorneys have carried on a feud through statements to the news media. The acrimony continued Tuesday when a judge acquitted another team captain on unrelated charges stemming from a January party at the Buchanan Boulevard house.

A neighbor had called police Jan. 10 when she said she heard someone banging or drumming on trash cans. Officers arrived and cited Evans and Daniel Flannery for loud music at the party.

Judge David Q. LaBarre said prosecutors could not prove that Flannery was responsible for drumming and the police could not show that music coming from the party was actually disturbing the neighborhood. The police also did not give the men a warning before issuing a citation.

"It seems to me this court and all other courts can make better use of its time than dealing with such cases as this," LaBarre said.

After Flannery's acquittal, Assistant District Attorney Ashley Cannon said she expects the case against Evans to go forward.

Brad Bannon, one of Evans' attorneys, thought it was a waste of time to pursue the minor charge against Evans.

"It would be fairly astonishing if the case wasn't dismissed in light of Judge LaBarre's ruling here today," Bannon said.

Staff writer Joseph Neff can be reached at 829-4516 or jneff@newsobserver.com.

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