Capitals

Williams free but must register as sex offender

Williams free but must register as sex offender

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) Ex-Oklahoma State basketball player Darrell Williams was freed Friday after a judge gave him a suspended sentence in a sexual assault case in which Williams insisted he was innocent.

Williams, 23, had been jailed since he was convicted in July of groping two women and reaching inside their pants without their consent at a party in December 2010.

He maintained he was the victim of misidentification - several of the 80 people at the party were wearing Oklahoma State University warm-up clothes - and his supporters claimed he was a victim of racial bias.

Williams is black; his accusers are white. The jury in predominantly white Payne County included 11 white people and one of Asian descent.

Williams enrolled at OSU after his brother was shot to death on Chicago's South Side in 2009. His family had hoped the move would keep him out of danger, and Williams made the most of his time, leading the Cowboys in rebounding and averaging more than 7 points a game in 2010.

Coach Travis Ford suspended Williams from the team in February 2011 but testified as his trial that he believed he was innocent. Ford and several players attended the sentencing but did not speak to reporters.

Ford, who sat expressionless during the hearing, didn't immediately return a message left afterward seeking comment.

A network of supporters sprang up on websites and Facebook pages while Williams was in jail awaiting sentencing. Some packed the courtroom Friday, wearing black T-shirts that said ``Free Darrell 25'' - a reference to his uniform number.

Security was tight, with nine uniformed deputies on hand to keep order. Many people burst into tears when District Judge Phillip Corley denied Williams' request for a new trial and issued the suspended sentence. While Williams won't spend time in prison, he still has a felony conviction.

``Yes, he's out and he's free and that's great, but he has to register as a sex offender,'' friend Brandi Robertson said as Williams' supporters gathered outside the courthouse to await his release. ``So my heart is broken for him. He's a good person and was done wrong and I'm very upset about it.''

Williams was stoic during the sentencing and left the jail in a car that pulled out from a garage and drove off without stopping for him to talk to reporters. His mother, who was at the hearing, ignored a reporter's request for comment.

Defense attorney Cheryl Ramsey said she was ``very upset'' as she had expected Corley to order a new trial based on new evidence. She said she would appeal so Williams would have a shot at clearing his name.

``We thought that we had proven that the new trial motion should be granted,'' she said. Corley has ordered the new evidence sealed, and Ramsey has not said what it is.

Online court records show that the mental health and counseling records of at least one of the women have been subpoenaed.

Assistant District Attorney Jill Ochs-Tontz said that while prosecutors had hoped for more time behind bars, they were ``thrilled'' Williams would be forced to register as a sex offender and have a felony conviction.

``I hope that sexual assault victims across the state will see and know that no one is above the law,'' she said. ``I honestly feel that Darrell Williams feels that he is above the law.''

With no physical evidence in the case, Williams was convicted largely on the women's testimony, although Ochs-Tontz noted that one witness testified she saw Williams pull one of the victims to the ground at the party.

Williams' attorney, Cheryl Ramsey, characterized the case during the trial as a ``he said, she said situation.'' She noted neither woman suffered cuts or scratches or had torn clothing. Defense attorneys also said Williams passed two lie-detector tests conducted by a State Bureau of Investigation examiner, though they were not admitted into evidence.

The women did not identify Williams as their attacker until three days after the party, when they were shown a photo of the basketball team by Stillwater police. Before that, the women wrote an anonymous letter to police and some media outlets outlining what happened.

At trial, one said Williams held her against her will and dragged her in a yard. She said the attack happened in the basement of the house and that no one came to her aid.

``I don't know what happened in the basement,'' Williams told police in a recorded interview played at his trial. ``I was probably misidentified.''

When the judge asked him if he had any comment before his sentencing, Williams continued to insist his conviction was a mistake.

``I'm innocent,'' he said. ``I didn't do it.''

His accusers did not attend the sentencing, although members of their families did, according to Ochs-Tontz. One victim told The Associated Press in August that the women had nothing to gain with their complaint.

``That's ignorance for people to say this is a race thing,'' she said. ``It's not about race; it's about rape. He raped two girls.''

The AP typically does not identify victims of sexual assault.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler