PIERRE - A judge has issued an order prohibiting former U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Evans from approaching or contacting a star player on South Dakota State University's women's basketball team.
Circuit Judge Rodney Steele of Brookings issued the protection order Sept. 22 after listening to testimony from Evans and Brenda Davis, who has alleged that she became scared after Evans approached her. The judge found that Evans had stalked Davis.
Evans has filed a notice that he will appeal Steele's ruling to the South Dakota Supreme Court. The son of the late country musician Kyle Evans said he must pursue the appeal because his comments were misunderstood and he believes he has done nothing that meets the legal definition of stalking.
"I guess all I can say is I'm an honest guy," Evans said in a telephone interview Friday. "If I had done this, I would just take my medicine. But what's happened to me is really an injustice. That's why I feel I have to fight it on principle."
Evans said he believes SDSU officials jumped to conclusions and pushed Davis to get the protection order after she told them he had made her uncomfortable. The university banned him from campus, he said.
Evans, 33, ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House as an independent in 1996. He got 3,070 votes, or slightly less than 1 percent, to finish third in last year's U.S. Senate race in which Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson narrowly beat Republican challenger John Thune.
Davis, a senior this year, was a member of SDSU's NCAA Division II championship team last year and has been named to the all-conference team. She did not return a message left with SDSU athletic officials Friday.
In her application for a protection order, Davis said Evans called her at home last spring, showed up where she worked, contacted her by e-mail and began showing up at organization meetings she attended.
"He continually feels the need to contact me and explain himself to me. He showed up on campus after he was told not to. He makes me uncomfortable, and I am scared that he is unstable," Davis wrote.
Evans, who described himself in last year's campaign as a "Bible-believing Christian," said he decided to take some time off after the Senate race. He said he met Davis when he began taking part in campus church organizations, but he said he left her alone after she told him April 9 that she already had a boyfriend.
He said after he thought he overheard Davis and a friend talking about him in August, he decided she might be interested in him, so he again asked if she had a boyfriend. He said he had no intention of bothering her after she said she still had a boyfriend.
"I made the mistake in the meeting on August 20th of saying 'I'm a little obsessed,' and I meant it partly as a joke, partly as a compliment and partly as an explanation of why I wanted to talk to her," Evans said. "I regret the use of that word because it was probably the deciding factor in starting the chain reaction that has resulted in a Supreme Court case now."
Evans said that after Davis reported the incident to university athletic officials, the campus police investigated and banned him from the SDSU campus. He said he thinks the legal battle, and Davis' fear, could have been avoided if university officials had sought his explanation rather than pushing for a protection order.
"Nothing that I did to Brenda was an act of harassment. Even with the trouble this situation has caused me, I feel no malice toward Brenda," Evans said.
"I kind of feel like I've been caught in the gears of a big machine," Evans said. "I don't have words to express how much I regret the pain and the fear that the situation has caused Brenda."
But in Davis' application for the protection order, she said she wanted the order so she would not be afraid of being alone. "I think he might want to approach me either violently or not, I don't know," she wrote.
Evans said he had planned to get a job in Brookings this fall but left the city because there was too great a chance he might inadvertently violate the order that prevents him from being within 300 feet of Davis.
He said he later tried to return to teaching in high schools but that schools may not hire him because a judge has found that he stalked Davis.
"I would go back to teaching, but I may not be able to do that unless I win this appeal," Evans said.