On February 7, 2011, Oklahoma State University basketball player Darrell Williams was charged with sexually assaulting two women at a party on December 12, 2010 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
The women alleged that Williams shoved his hand down their pants at the party and digitally penetrated them. Williams was charged with one count of sexual battery and four counts of rape by instrumentation.
Williams went on trial in July 2012. The women, who were white, testified that Williams, who was black, groped them against their will. One said Williams grabbed her and dragged her into the back yard where she was assaulted. The other said she was attacked in the basement.
The women testified that they identified Williams after police showed them a photograph of the team. Defense lawyers contended that the women misidentified Williams and argued that the identification process was invalid because the police used a team photograph rather than a traditional photographic lineup containing individual photographs. Several defense witnesses testified that multiple players at the party were wearing similar Oklahoma State warm-up suits.
Williams denied the allegations.
On July 23, 2012, the jury acquitted Williams of one count of sexual battery and two counts of rape by instrumentation. He was convicted of two counts of rape by instrumentation. The jury recommended a sentence of one year in prison. Williams was taken into custody pending formal imposition of sentence by the trial judge.
In August, 2012, the defense filed a motion for a new trial claiming that the prosecution withheld mental health records of the victims. The records called into question the reliability of the women’s account. The defense also argued that the jury had improperly visited the scene of the party during deliberations.
On October 12 2012, Payne County District Court Judge Phillip Corley denied the motion for new trial and sentenced Williams to one year in prison, but suspended the sentence. Williams then was released from custody.
In April 2014, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Williams’ convictions. The Court ruled that the jury had visited the scene of the party and then had discussed it during their deliberations—a violation of their oaths as jurors to consider only the evidence presented in the courtroom.
On June 23, 2014, the Payne County District Attorney dismissed the charges.
In November 2014, Williams enrolled at Texas A & M University-Commerce. He played for the university basketball team and was granted an extra semester by the NCAA so he could complete his academic studies and receive a degree.
In March 2015, Williams was named Lone Star Conference Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and first-team all-conference.
– Maurice Possley