Williams, Irvin Are Cleared
In a sudden reversal of fortune for two troubled stars, Michael Irvin and Erik Williams of the Dallas Cowboys were cleared of recent rape allegations Friday after sources said their accuser admitted the story was a hoax.
The allegations that Williams sexually assaulted the 23-year-old woman while Irvin videotaped the scene are false, Dallas police said in a hastily called news conference.
The same police department called an equally hasty news conference 11 days ago to publicize the allegations, even though no charges had been filed.
“We’ve determined conclusively that the allegations are not true and that a sexual assault did not take place,” police spokesman Ed Spencer said.
He added, “We also determined that Michael Irvin was not present at any time. The original complaint will be unfounded and no charges will be forwarded for court action.”
Sources throughout the league say the woman admitted the allegations were a hoax, although police would not confirm that, saying only a false report is being investigated.
Williams’ lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, said Williams was both relieved and angry.
Irvin, met by camera crews as he left Cowboys Sports Cafe late Friday, told them to report the police announcement with the same fervor they reported the accusation.
“Rerun it, rewrite it, reprint it,” Irvin said. “Just like you did, with the same intensity that you did--the same intensity. Don’t lose the intensity. Don’t lose the intensity.”
Irvin’s lawyer, Royce West, said earlier: “The police jumped the gun--that’s certain. But did the department right the ship? Yes, they did.”
Cowboy Coach Barry Switzer was pleased by his players’ vindication.
“We were confident,” he said. “We knew it would come out this way because the players tell us the truth.”
Irvin initially and Williams later had stated their innocence.
Irvin spoke out immediately after the allegations, saying, “I’m tired of it. I’ve done enough bad things to my family and my teammates. But in this case, I have done nothing.”
He added, “I’m . . . looking forward to seeing how you guys go rewrite, reprint, rerun all these things about what happened Sunday night when you find out that I wasn’t even at Erik’s house.”
Irvin had said he had not visited Williams’ house in more than a year.
Williams was quiet initially, but several days after the allegations he said, “I’ve been falsely accused of something that I didn’t do and I’m looking forward to the truth to come out as soon as possible.”
The allegations turned the Cowboys’ preparations for their playoff game in Carolina last weekend into a circus, causing what one Cowboy staffer said was “the toughest week ever.”
Coming from someone in an organization that is consistently in the news for a variety of mishaps and misdeeds, that is saying something.
Irvin is on probation after pleading no contest last spring to drug possession, and he had been suspended for the first five games of the season by the NFL.
Williams had been involved in a scenario similar to the allegation in 1995, when a 17-year-old girl claimed the player and a friend had sexually assaulted her at his home. The girl reached a civil settlement with Williams and asked that he not be prosecuted, resulting in the grand jury’s refusal to indict for lack of evidence.
At the time of that incident, Williams was on two years’ probation after entering a no-contest plea for drunk driving stemming from a wreck Oct. 24, 1994.
Amid rumors and counter-charges, the Cowboys took the field against Carolina more than a bit distracted, and it showed during a 26-17 loss.
Irvin suffered a shoulder sprain after one catch and did not return to the game. Williams struggled against a Carolina defense that held Emmitt Smith to 80 rushing yards and no touchdowns.
Sources said the only evidence was seized videotapes that showed Williams and the woman having sex. Irvin was not on the tape, leading police to eventually suspect a hoax.
The woman also raised suspicions when her first phone call after the alleged incident was not to the police but to a local TV reporter.
West said the false allegation had further tarnished Irvin’s reputation, “but it’s at the point now where his reputation can, in fact, hopefully be repaired after this latest episode of allegations--unfounded allegations.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.