Defense says evidence weak against OSU's Williams

AP News
Posted: Jul 23, 2012 4:26 PM
Defense says evidence weak against OSU's Williams

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — A prosecutor urged jurors Monday to convict a suspended Oklahoma State basketball player who is accused of sexually assaulting two women, saying it would send a message that no means no.

But the defense attorney for Darrell Williams said the testimonies of the alleged victims were inconsistent and lacking in credibility.

The two women accuse Williams of groping them and reaching into their pants at a December 2010 party. Williams is charged with four counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of sexual battery. He has pleaded not guilty.

The jury began deliberating early Monday afternoon. If convicted, Williams faces up to 15 years in prison on the rape charges and up to 10 years on the sexual battery charge.

With little in the way of physical evidence to bolster the case, Assistant District Attorney Jill Tontz had to rely on testimony from the two women.

"'No' means just that: It means 'no,'" Tontz said during closing arguments in a crowded Payne County courtroom. "These girls felt dehumanized, embarrassed."

Among Williams' supporters assembled in the courtroom were OSU basketball coach Travis Ford and other members of the Cowboys basketball team.

Defense attorney Cheryl Ramsey referred to the case as a "he said, she said situation."

"No one reported any other problems at this party," Ramsey said. "We don't know which one is correct or if anyone is correct."

She said no one heard anyone scream at the party, saw any struggles or reported anything inappropriate. Neither of the women suffered any cuts or scratches, and no clothing was torn after the alleged incident.

"Why would you take their word over Mr. Williams?" Ramsey asked. "There isn't anyone else who can say any of this occurred."

Ramsey said the party was attended several members of the OSU basketball team who were dressed similarly and had similar stature and features. She suggested that the girls may have been assaulted by another person at the party.

But Tontz said the victims insist that Williams was their assailant.

"They have remained steadfast and true," Tontz said. "They knew and they saw who had done this to them. It was Darrell Williams."

The defense called eight character witnesses to the stand but Williams did not testify in his own defense.