|Friday, August 23
Williams acquitted by jury in rape case
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia football player Brandon Williams was acquitted Friday by a Superior Court jury in the alleged sexual assault of a female student in another athlete's dorm room.
Williams, 21, was charged with rape, aggravated assault and aggravated battery following the Jan. 12 incident. Williams sobbed openly when innocent verdicts on all counts were announced.
Georgia basketball player Steve Thomas, also accused of rape and aggravated assault, will be tried in October or November. Tony Cole, Thomas' teammate, was charged with aggravated assault and likely will be tried after Christmas.
The 19-year-old woman, who has since left the school, testified she had consensual sex with Cole, but then two other men forced themselves on her.
District Attorney Ken Mauldin told jurors Friday that consent was the key to the case -- not a given just because the victim doesn't fight or cry out.
"It's not what's in the man's mind,'' he said. "It's what's in her mind.''
After the verdict, Mauldin declined to comment on how the cases of Thomas and Cole might be affected.
The defense called no witnesses during the three-day trial, and in closing arguments, defense attorney Kim Stephens said the state "did not meet its burden of proof.'' He told jurors the alleged victim's account was full of inconsistencies, noting she couldn't pinpoint the time of the incident.
"A woman can't make up her mind and say `No' after the fact,'' Stephens said.
Jury foreman Farris Johnson said the panel "prayed before we began deliberations and we prayed after we deliberated.''
"We knew there were things that went on that were morally wrong,'' Johnson said. "But when there was a doubt, we thought it was morally wrong to ruin someone's life.''