Black Duke Lacrosse Player Says Race Has Played Issue in Alleged Rape Case

The only black player on the Duke University men's lacrosse team has come forward amid a rape investigation, saying that his three white teammates who have been accused of raping a stripper have been stereotyped by class and skin color.

"It's almost a reversal,'' Devon Sherwood, 19, said in an interview Tuesday morning on ABC's "Good Morning America," adding that it's been assumed by many in Durham that the players' parents are going to just use their money to hire hot-shot lawyers to get them out of their predicament.

"It's just been all the stereotypes... I've even been stereotyped for being rich, being on full scholarship, [being] not in touch with my own black community at Duke... It's terrible to find yourself being stereotyped," Sherwood continued. "And you're like, 'Hold on, this couldn't be much further from the truth … It's just amazing that the things you see and that [were] going on in this case and how the reversal from black stereotype to now rich white, privileged stereotype.''

The three accused Duke players, team captain Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, have been charged with felony rape. All three defendants insist they are innocent of the charges. Their trial is expected to begin next spring.

The accuser, a black exotic dancer who attends a nearby college, claims she was assaulted by several white players in the bathroom of an off-campus lacrosse house during a party for which she was hired to perform.

But even the second stripper who accompanied her to the party has shed doubt on her claims, and has told the media that the accuser seemed "fine" after the time of the alleged rape, while poking other holes in the accuser's account.

Every member of the men's lacrosse team, except Sherwood, took DNA tests that failed to conclusively show any of them assaulted the woman. Sherwood didn't get tested because the accuser said her attackers were white.

"It's almost like I'm leaving's like I'm not there with my troops. That's the kind of sense I felt," he said of not being tested.

Sherwood told ABC he finds it "impossible'' to believe that the rape allegations are true, given the good character of his teammates.

"I'm 100 percent confident … I know nothing indeed happened that night at all," he said. "I believe in the character of my teammates. I believe in the character of specifically [the three defendants]. I would never ever... doubt them or think, 'Well, are they lying?' I would never do that, because I believe in them."

'I Was Stunned'

Sherwood, who left the party early on March 13, the night the woman claims the assault took place, described the party as being "kind of boring" and that he learned about the rape allegations a couple days later at a bowling alley with some teammates.

"Everybody's having a fun time and I just looked over my shoulder. And I saw four captains talking to our former coach. And we knew something was wrong," he said. "We were like, 'What's going on? Did the coach find out about the stripper party or what?'''

When he learned of the allegations, he said, "I was stunned."

"I was surprised. I was dumbfounded," he said. "You know what? It was almost, it was movie-like."

Both strippers dancers claims the lacrosse players hurled racial slurs at them during the party. Those comments have never been flatly denied publicly by the players.

Sherwood told ABC that his teammates urged him not to believe everything that was being said about the team and said he felt "special" because although they were facing a heap of legal trouble, they were concerned with his feelings.

But "if it is in fact true, it's disgusting," Sherwood said of the racial slur reports, addeing that he's never heard his teammates even jokingly utter any insults of that nature.

Sherwood said in the interview that he's received a variety of e-mails, including some that said he wasn't sticking up for his race.

"I would get random e-mails saying I was letting down my race, that I should turn in my teammates, referring to me as a 'young black soldier,' basically saying I was letting down my race, I was letting down my forefathers, which is completely insane," he said.

On Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, who last week said he still had not interviewed the accuser, Sherwood said it's his belief Nifong has used the race issue "to his advantage to get re-elected" in a heavily African American district.

"I think he's used that — he's used ... the black people of Durham — and the white people of Durham as well," Sherwood said.

And although the ordeal has shattered the lives of some at Duke and in Durham, Sherwood said the entire experience has also strengthened the bond between the players.

"I had one brother when I came to Duke. Now I have 47 brothers...46 of them just happen to be white," he said. "We're almost inseparable ... We have a bond for life that no one else has. We know that we're in a unique situation. And it's something to be... definitely something to remember."'s Liza Porteus contributed to this report.