Originally published January 9, 2019 at 08:55a.m., updated January 9, 2019 at 09:50a.m.

KU football player Pooka Williams applies for diversion in domestic battery case

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

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


University of Kansas star football player Pooka Williams has applied for a diversion in the domestic battery charge he is facing, his attorney Hatem B. Chahine said Wednesday morning, and the court has granted his request.

The terms of the diversion were not available Wednesday morning.

Williams appeared in court Wednesday morning. At the hearing, the court scheduled him to appear on Feb. 13 in the event that the diversion does not go through.

“If diversion is approved, and we decide to do it, there won’t be anymore court,” Chahine said. “It would keep a conviction off his record.”

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, whose full name is Anthony Ray Williams, 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.

Judge James T. 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 a reported incident involving Williams.

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

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 seasonlong 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.


Dane Pratt 1 year, 8 months ago

Hopefully a diversion program will prevent him from committing this type of act on a more serious scale ala Ray Rice. I'd be interested in hearing what the victim has to say about all this.

Joe Joseph 1 year, 8 months ago

My guess is Pooka ends up suspended for 4 games or so. Maybe 6?

[''] 1 year, 8 months ago

Although violence in any form is never good, if this guy had been in say a fight and hit a guy and grabbed him by the throat in a scuffle I'd say, wrong place, wrong time, learn your lesson....but this kid punched a woman AND grabbed her by the throat - a WOMAN who he had had feelings for by his own admission. Pathetic! This shows HUGE weakness not strength tough guy. Not. Cool! I say 6 game rip - minimum.

Ray Winger 1 year, 8 months ago

Did she strike at him? Did she grab at him? I can not imagine she is standing there, arms at her side, and he touches her in a negative fashion. Unfortunately, it is seemingly understood that it is ok for females to strike out at males without consequence. I think, the balance of the issue should be handled 'in house'.

Dale Rogers 1 year, 8 months ago

It appears, "", that you are convicting him without proof, just hearsay. She says he grabbed her by the throat. He says he only punched her in the arms. No bruises or marks of any kind were found on her throat. Only on her arms and side. Not even in her stomach. Not cool to convict without evidence.

[''] 1 year, 8 months ago

"He says he only punched her in the arms" ONLY? Dude. PS -- you don't do a Diversion without being guilty.

Dale Rogers 1 year, 8 months ago

Suggest you read my reply to Joe Ross and maybe do some research. Diversions are done by innocent people all the time. Check it out.

[''] 1 year, 8 months ago

Read it -- meehhh. Not a good argument

Dirk Medema 1 year, 8 months ago

Are you kidding me Dale! We've hardly had any overreactions or irrational responses in months now. Can't keep those juices bottled up. It's unhealthy. Send him off to Convict U. {End sarcasm font}

Joe Ross 1 year, 8 months ago

A number-of-games suspension would definitely be appropriate if he is granted a diversion. If, on the other hand, he is tried and convicted, I think it would be hard to not kick him off the team. A lot is riding on the legal outcome of the matter. If Pooka survives this, I would hope that Miles and Co. would coach him off the field to be a better man. He's got a bright future ahead of him if he makes some personal improvement.

Dale Rogers 1 year, 8 months ago

Joe, a diversion is not an admission of guilt. It can be a way to avoid prosecution when actually guilty. Or it can be a way to avoid the potential damage of going to trial, even when innocent.

Those potential damages from going to trial could include -

  1. In 'he said, she said' cases of domestic abuse allegations charged by a woman rarely result in the male being found innocent unless there are witnesses and/or video (remember how so many here proclaimed Carlton Bragg guilty before that video showed the woman was totally to blame and was lying... and she was later charged by police - and now those people are doing it again to Pooka.)

  2. waiting for a trial date and the ensuing time for the trial itself likely would run into spring practices and potentially into the football season itself. And Pooka would be suspended that entire time, potentially missing the season. Even if he was judged innocent, the charges and trial forever stain his image. Diversion also stains, but less so.

Hey, Joe, my daughter says you pushed her down, grabbed her by the throat, hit her in the stomach. You should be fired from you job for hitting a woman! Oh, that's different? Please explain how.

Ray Winger 1 year, 8 months ago

  1. Often lies are told to cover up other lies. Going forward (without diversion) would give an opportunity for the accuser to put forth additional lies under oath. This only amplifies the 'he said she said' situation,

I was once told that 'Laws are the outward extension of societies' morality'-Jess McNish

I thank you for your input

Joe Ross 1 year, 8 months ago

Why do you think I don't know that a diversion is not an admission of guilt. In fact, that's what the entirety of my comment is based on. If he receives a diversion, then legally he has NOT been found guilty of anything. If, on the other hand, he is tried and convicted, that is another matter.

You gotta understand what is being said before you critique a comment, Dale. Use some LOGIC!

Dale Rogers 1 year, 8 months ago

Think about it this way.... assume someone charged you with an offense that you actually did NOT do, but it's their word against yours. No video, no witness, and the situation is one that frequently the alleged attacker is assumed guilty by the general public, unless there is evidence to prove innocence. If you choose to go to trial, you may well lose even though in this case you are innocent. OK, if you lose, it costs you something very dear to you and potentially your career or education or whatever. But if you take diversion, that all goes away, assuming you fulfill the diversion agreement. Your odds in a trial are not favorable even though you are innocent. So what do you do? Gamble on the trial, a dragged out, public affair? Or chose the diversion and make it all go away? It really is very simple and completely logical.

Dane Pratt 1 year, 8 months ago

Is his lawyer a public defender? If so, based on your argument it would be in his best interest to apply for a diversion program.

Dale Rogers 1 year, 8 months ago

The only way I would agree with suspension is if he admits to Coach that he is guilty. Since diversion was granted, this has to be a "he said, she said" situation in which there is no video and no other witnesses. In those kinds of cases, a trial could go either way and that risks his career, at least at the college level. Taking diversion eliminates that risk. If the court agrees to a diversion, which it did, then completing the diversion agreement successfully, the charges are dropped and no guilt is established. Lacking clear determination of guilt, then a suspension is the wrong thing to do. You are punishing a person for something not proven. Our country's justice system is based on innocent until PROVEN guilty. So, unless Pooka admits guilt either to coach or publicly, he is NOT PROVEN GUILTY and punishment would be inappropriate.

Mike Bennett 1 year, 8 months ago

Diversions are absolutely normal for anyone and everyone in a first offense. I had one back in 1997 (not violence related) and I'm nothing special. Yes, Williams shouldn't have done it . It shows a major mistake on his part, but let's not be holier than thou. Almost all of us have done something wrong, stupid, and yes illegal at some time. Some got caught, some didn't. Depending on all facts, I can see 1-6 games. If it was a one time deal, he gets counseling and treatment the next 6 months in accordance with the diversion agreement, then I'm good with whatever they decide.

Dale Rogers 1 year, 8 months ago

Mike, I agree except about the suspension unless he admits or is found guilty. I cannot see suspending someone who claims to be innocent and is not proven otherwise. To do otherwise is to make assumptions that there is no way to ensure are correct.

Chris DeWeese 1 year, 8 months ago

In this situation (based on only the information provided and assuming he did it) I'd be ok with suspending Pooka for the first 3 games (or more if Coach Miles believes it necessary). I'm sure the diversion will include some form of reparations and community service, as well as anger mgt classes or the like. If he successfully completes diversion (not sure how long it could last though) then I think it's ok to keep him on the team. I'm of the opinion that Coach Miles and his staff might want to train the lad on how to be a real man. I certainly understand there will be those who believe in a zero tolerance policy, but given what we know I think Pooka can make amends and redeem himself (again, assuming he did it).

Kevin Robert Fest 1 year, 8 months ago

There was other people there, some witnesses might come forward. If that's the case then it shouldn't be he said she said.

Dale Rogers 1 year, 8 months ago

From what I read he reacted to seeing her in a room with other guys but it did not say the alleged assault took place in front of those guys. What I read is that the "incident" took place in her apartment, where there likely were no witnesses and no video. Otherwise the media would have mentioned that there were witnesses. And they have not said that, at least not in any of the numerous articles I have read.

W Keith Swinehart II 1 year, 8 months ago

Didn't you post numerous times the last time this issue was raised on KU Sports. If so, you must have personal knowledge about Pooka's situation.

This is reportedly a misdemeanor offense, so a second chance for Pooka is not unreasonable. The court has granted his request for diversion, and will reconvene on the 13fh. Probably want to wait for the court's decision and comments. Let's get it right.

Titus Canby 1 year, 8 months ago

Great first name for a lawyer. Must work for Dewey Cheetam & Howe.

Pius Waldman 1 year, 8 months ago

Purpose of courts are to make fair decisions. Evidently they are accepting a diversion agreement to solve this case. As far as what punishment will be given by the coaches they surely will review the case. Can we agree the publicity already has been a punishment. So we'll have to see what happens. Probably with his athletic skills he has a great chance to continue as a football player. OK I'm not deciding what it will be.

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