STILLWATER, Okla. —
OSU men’s basketball head coach Travis Ford testified Wednesday that Darrell Williams is an athlete of high character and is innocent of sex charges. The coach said Williams remains on scholarship at OSU.
Williams also professed his innocence in an audio tape of an interview with Stillwater police.
Williams, 22, is accused of sexually assaulting two women at a house party in 2010. He is charged with two counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of sexual assault.
Ford was called to testify by the defense Wednesday afternoon after the prosecution rested.
Ford said he had reviewed the police report, OSU’s report and talked with his players and the district attorney’s office.
“[Williams] has proven to me that he did not do this,” Ford testified. “If I believed he had done this and had direct evidence I would have dismissed him from the team.”
During questioning by Assistant District Attorney Jill Tontz, Ford said he was not at the party, did not see any of the assaults and had no criminal investigation experience.
Ford said he did not think there was any evidence compelling enough to punish Williams and has kept him on scholarship, which covers tuition, housing and meals. Williams remains on the team roster and participates in all team activities except games, Ford said. The coach testified he did not punish any of the players who were said to have been drinking while wearing OSU warmup suits at the party.
Ford testified that Williams and several others on the team in 2010, including Marshall Moses and Jarred Shaw, have similar skin tone, height and build.
Two OSU learning specialists who work closely with Williams to help with his academics also vouched for his character and said they believe he did not assault anyone. Steve Middleton, assistant OSU basketball coach, also spoke highly of Williams.
Before the state rested its case Wednesday, Stillwater police detective Les Little testified about investigating the case. Multimedia evidence, including an audio recording of Williams’ interview with police, was played for the Jury.
On the recording of an interview with Little at OSU’s Gahallager-Iba Arena, Williams said he had introduced himself to three women, including the two victims, at a bar and invited them to the party. He said he had seen the three again at the party in the basement and briefly greeted them. He said he had been drinking and was drunk at the party but he could remember what happened.
He maintained on the recording that he did not assault anyone during the party. Williams said most of the OSU basketball players were there in their OSU warmup suits.
“I don’t know what happened in the basement,” Williams said on the recording.
“I was probably misidentified,” he added, noting the players were all dressed alike.
When detectives asked Williams on the recording about a text he had sent one of the victims the day after the party Williams replied that he had obtained a lot of women’s phone numbers that night and it was his custom to text them all and said he probably did text her.
Defense attorney Cheryl Ramsey asked the detective about Stillwater Police Department’s photo identification policy. Little said in the 23 years he has worked there a policy has never been in place.
Ramsey asked why they had not waited to get photos of players in plainclothes. Little said they chose to use an unlabeled photo of the basketball team for suspect identification because the women said it was a basketball player. Little said he put the photo in front of them without any prompting and asked if they saw the man who assaulted them. Ramsey reminded Little of the confusion about when and if the three women who were interviewed looked at team photos before going to the police station where they identified Williams.
Earlier in the week, victims testified Williams and other athletes sexually assaulted them at the party multiple times. Students who attended the party testified Williams and others in OSU warm up gear calling themselves basketball players were drinking and making women feel uncomfortable.
Yayi Janneh, 23, who is not a basketball player, has been charged with two counts of sexual battery in connection with the 2010 party.
Defense testimony in the trial of suspended Oklahoma State basketball player Darrell Williams was set to resume at 9 a.m. Thursday.