Court sets trial for Pooka Williams domestic battery charge; diversion discussions continuing

Anthony Ray Williams, Jr., also known as Pooka Williams

Anthony Ray Williams, Jr., also known as Pooka Williams

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A trial date has been set for University of Kansas star football player Pooka Williams, who faces a charge of domestic battery.

On Wednesday in Douglas County District Court, Judge James T. George set Williams' trial for 9 a.m. June 3.

The court had previously granted Williams a diversion in the case, but Williams and the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office have not yet come to an agreement on the terms. Williams’ attorney, Hatem B. Chahine, said he requested that the trial date be moved further out than normal to give Williams and the DA's office more time to come to an agreement on the diversion.

Chahine did not elaborate when the Journal-World asked why an agreement had not yet been made. Williams, whose full name is Anthony Ray Williams, appeared in court with Chahine Wednesday morning.

A diversion is a process whereby someone accused of a crime is “diverted” from the usual legal procedures and instead completes the terms of an agreement, which may include some sort of rehabilitation program or fine. If the program is successfully completed, the criminal charges are dropped.

The charge stems from a Dec. 5 incident in which Williams, 19, is accused of punching an 18-year-old KU student in the stomach.

On Dec. 6, the woman in the case told a KU police officer that Williams punched her in the stomach and grabbed her throat around 12:30 a.m. Dec. 5 when they were at Stouffer Place Apartments, 1835 Ousdahl Road, according to an affidavit.

During the interview, the officer found the woman had bruises on her arms and side, according to the affidavit. She also showed the officer text messages from Williams in which he admitted to punching her in the arms.

The officer interviewed Williams, who reportedly said that he pushed the woman when he saw her in a room with other men at the apartment building. Both Williams and the woman said they were in an intimate relationship.

KU police arrested Williams at the KU Public Safety Office, 1501 Crestline Drive, and he was booked into jail at 3 p.m. Dec. 6.

Williams spent the night in jail and made his first court appearance Dec. 7 in Douglas County District Court. He was formally charged with domestic battery, a misdemeanor.

Chahine entered a not guilty plea on Williams’ behalf. A prosecutor said Williams did not have any criminal history.

George set a $1,000 bond for Williams and ordered him to not make contact with the victim or return to her residence.

KU football coach Les Miles said on Dec. 7 that he was aware of the reported incident and had suspended Williams.

“We are taking these allegations very seriously,” Miles said. “We have suspended Pooka from all team-related activities pending further investigation.”

Earlier this week, KU Athletic Director Jeff Long was asked about the running back’s standing with the team while appearing on the 810 WHB radio show “The Border Patrol.”

“You know, he's involved in the legal system in Lawrence and that process is still going on and then there'll be a campus process as well and that's ongoing,” Long said. “So those things will get tied up and then we'll have a status on where he is with the criminal justice system and where he is with the campus system. And then, frankly we'll have a decision to make in athletics after all that information is in.”

Williams is a freshman running back from New Orleans who arguably became the face of the team during the 2018 season, winning several weekly and season-long awards for his performance on the field.

Editor's note: This story has been edited to correct a time that had been misstated by police in their arrest affidavit. The incident at Stouffer Place Apartments occured at 12:30 a.m. Dec. 5, 2018, according to Cheryl Wright Kunard, assistant to Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson.