GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ Former WBA heavyweight champion Bruce Seldon's manager said Thursday the boxer is innocent of charges he sexually assaulted a minor.

``He denies having sexual contact with her, and he denies knowing her age,'' said Rocco DePersia, the boxer's manager and lawyer.

On Wednesday, police said a 15-year-old girl arrived at headquarters that afternoon, claiming that nine days ago Seldon picked her up while she was walking in Atlantic City. She said he took her to his house in Gloucester Township and that he raped her three times.

That never happened, DePersia said, noting the 30-year-old boxer, nicknamed ``The Atlantic City Express,'' ``lives with his father, who was home.''

``When the facts come out, we think he'll be cleared,'' the manager said, adding that Seldon thought the girl was 18.

Gloucester Police Lt. John Schuck said Wednesday the girl claimed Seldon smoked marijuana and offered her some during the 40-mile drive from Atlantic City to the home.

Police executed a search warrant on Seldon's home Wednesday night. They said they found evidence of the sexual assault as well as a small amount of marijuana, a BB gun and a starter's pistol.

Seldon was freed on $50,000 bail after being charged with three counts of sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a minor, and drug and weapons offenses.

``She identified herself to him as a friend of his sister and of his former sparring partner,'' DePersia said Thursday. ``That's why he felt comfortable having her in his company and taking her back to his house.''

Seldon, the eighth-ranked heavyweight by the World Boxing Association, lost his heavyweight title to Mike Tyson on Sept. 7, 1996, at Las Vegas.

DePersia said Seldon took a year off after that defeat but is about to resume training.

He learned his boxing skills sparring with other young men behind bars as a teen-ager, when he served time in several New Jersey juvenile detention centers for armed robbery. During his last stay _ four and a half years at the Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility in Annandale _ he began to turn his life around.

``Since he got out (in 1987), he has been in zero trouble with the law,'' DePersia said.