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Cowboys’ Williams Denies Rape Report

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Erik Williams, the Dallas Cowboy offensive tackle accused of raping a 23-year-old woman while teammate Michael Irvin held a gun to her head, proclaimed his innocence Thursday, and Williams’ attorney said Irvin has not been at Williams’ home in more than 1 1/2 years.

The Dallas Police Department, which had taken an aggressive position earlier in the week, suggesting that charges were imminent, appeared to back off with the announcement that it could be days, even weeks before their investigation is completed.

The police have not questioned either player about the alleged Sunday night incident at Williams’ home, and Williams’ attorney, Peter Ginsberg, said he has not given the authorities permission to question his client.

“I will allow Mr. Williams to talk with the detectives when they show us they are willing to behave in a professional and appropriate manner,” said Ginsberg, whose law practice is in Washington, D.C. “I will be very surprised if charges are filed. . . . I think in very short order the police will find these allegations have been baseless.”

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Williams had declined comment the past two days, but flanked by his attorney and agent, he went public with a statement after the Cowboys continued practice preparations for Sunday’s NFL playoff game against Carolina.

“I’ve been falsely accused of something I didn’t do,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to the truth coming out as soon as possible. I’m not a bad person. I realize the responsibilities and the privileges that it takes to be a Dallas Cowboy. I’m looking forward to the truth coming out as soon as possible.”

Ginsberg and Williams’ agent, Alan Herman, suggested that the credibility of the 23-year-old woman who made the accusations will be found wanting.

“The one fact that is important--that does reflect on how ridiculous the charges are,” Ginsberg said, “is the fact Michael Irvin has not been at Erik Williams’ house for over a year and a half.”

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Said Herman: “I’m upset with the fact that a person can make an accusation about players and that there is an immediate presumption of guilt in these kind of situations.”

The woman, who has not been identified, had worked as an occasional source on previous Cowboy stories for a local TV broadcaster.

Her estranged husband, who had not talked with his ex-wife about the alleged incident, told the Dallas Morning News that he doubted the veracity of her story.

“It seems very reasonable that she is making this up,” he said. “She’s very melodramatic. She accused me of doing this, and she accused her fiance before me of doing this, so I don’t know why she wouldn’t do it again.”

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However, two unidentified friends of the woman who recently worked at the mall cosmetics counter with her, told the newspaper they met with the woman and believed her. They described her as bruised, upset and fearful for her safety.

Ginsberg, asked if there had been any incident at Williams’ house Sunday evening, said, “Erik has a friendship, a relationship with this woman. But it’s been a long-term relationship and there has been nothing abusive about it in any way.”

A year ago Williams settled out of court with a 17-year-old girl who had accused him of sexual assault, but Ginsberg said in that case he had also been falsely accused.

Herman said Williams paid no dollars to anyone in a previous financial settlement, but he declined to detail the terms of that earlier settlement.

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“There certainly was a voice heard that Erik should go to court and clear his name [in the previous incident],” Ginsberg said.

“But Erik had other things in his life. He has a family, he has responsibilities to the Dallas Cowboys, he wants to live as privately as a person in his public position can. It takes a lot of energy, a lot of attention and a lot of money to go to court.”

Williams received two years’ probation on a misdemeanor drunk-driving offense two years ago after crashing his car into a freeway ramp and injuring his knee.

As to the videotape seized at Williams’ home, which reportedly shows Williams engaged in sex with his accuser, Ginsberg said, “Erik has taken certain precautions to try and safeguard against other false accusations being lodged against him. Erik videotapes, at times, consent by people so that there’s never a question that people are voluntarily at Erik’s house.”

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Irvin, meanwhile, left the Cowboys’ practice facility without comment, although his attorney went on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to say that a security guard at the subdivision in which Williams’ house is located can provide an alibi for Irvin.

“That security guard will state Mr. Michael Irvin never went to Erik Williams’ house Sunday night,” said Royce West, Irvin’s attorney.

A manager for Triad Protective Services, which handles the subdivision’s security, said guards are not required to list visitors, so it would be the guard’s word as to whether Irvin--or anyone else--had visited.


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