Former NCAA Player Released from Jail after Racially-Charged Allegations of Two White Female Students
by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Darrell Williams, a former star of the Oklahoma State University basketball team, has been released from jail. The judge has given Williams a suspended sentence in his case and he continues to proclaim his innocence. The 23-year old was arrested for groping two women and reaching inside their pants during a party in 2010. Williams says that there were 80 people at the party, with many of them drinking alcohol and that the women misidentified him in the matter.
Williams is black and his accusers are white. The jury was predominantly white in Payne County, with 11 whites and one Asian.
Williams went to college after is brother was killed on the South Side of Chicago in 2009. His family was trying to keep him out of trouble by moving him to Oklahoma, only to find that it seemed to make his life worse. Williams was a good player, leading his team in rebounds and averaging seven points per game.
Williams’ coach, Travis Ford, suspended Williams after the incident, but testified at his trial that he believed he was innocent. Thousands of people have taken to social media to support Williams, wearing T-shirts that said, “Free Darrell 25.” In spite fo the support, Judge Phillip Corley denied Williams’ request for a new trial. Although his sentence is suspended and he doesn’t have to go to prison, he does have a felony on his record.
“Yes, he’s out and he’s free and that’s great, but he has to register as a s*x offender,” said a friend, Brandi Robertson. “So my heart is broken for him. He’s a good person and was done wrong and I’m very upset about it.”
Williams’ mother didn’t speak to reporters after the ruling. Williams’ attorney, Cheryl Ramsey, said that she is going to fight for a new trial. She says she has new evidence that proves her client to be innocent.
“We thought that we had proven that the new trial motion should be granted,” she said.
As we conduct the Building Outstanding Men and Boys Family Empowerment Tour in cities across the nation, these things come to mind when I evaluate the case of Darrell Williams. I don’t proclaim to know what happened in this situation, so I won’t speculate. But my thoughts center around these problems:
1) Campus parties are too often flooded with alcohol, as we teach our kids that college is the place to go and drink till you puke every weekend. This diverts from the reasons that you’re in school in the first place, and also opens the door to alcoholism and tragedies like this one. A campus party is a great place to be sexually assaulted or to be accused of assault yourself. I’ve seen too many cases of men passing out drunk and waking up to find that they’ve been arrested for some heinous crime. Avoiding stupid situations like this one is an important step toward protecting yourself from the forces that are designed to harm you.
2) The all-white jury in Oklahoma reminds us of a consistent theme which exists in the American justice system. I can’t imagine any black man being accused of s****l assault by two “innocent” white women is going to fare well with an all white jury. At a big campus party, where everyone is drinking and having s*x, I’m hard pressed to understand how anyone was able to figure out who did what. This young man didn’t appear to stand a chance, even if he’s innocent. Whether he should get the stigma of being labeled a s*x offender for life as the result of someone speculating that he put his hands down a woman’s pants is questionable enough. But the great challenge here is that the justice system wasn’t even wired to give him a fair shake.
My advice to college students? Avoid wild, drunken parties on campus, even if some idiot tells you that this is what college life is all about. College is a great place to learn, but also a great place to ruin your life. This man is a shining example.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. He is also the founder of the Building Outstanding Men and Boys Family Empowerment Series To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.