University of Kansas

KU running back Pooka Williams granted diversion for domestic battery charge

Pooka Williams rushed for 252 yards against Oklahoma on Saturday night.
Pooka Williams rushed for 252 yards against Oklahoma on Saturday night. AP

Kansas running back Pooka Williams applied for and was granted a diversion by the Douglas County District Attorney’s office for his domestic battery charge, Williams’ attorney Hatem Chahine said Wednesday.

Williams, who appeared in court Wednesday morning, had his next appearance set for 9 a.m. on Feb. 13. If he accepts diversion, it will be the end of his court appearances for his domestic battery charge and also would keep a conviction off his record.

In response to emailed questions from The Star, Cheryl Wright Kunard, assistant to the district attorney, said the victim in the case was consulted before diversion was offered to Williams and she did not oppose.

“The defendant met the standard qualifications to be approved for consideration of a diversion as any defendant charged with the same offense,” Wright Kunard wrote, adding that the diversion agreement had been approved but had not yet been signed by Williams and returned to the district attorney’s office as of Wednesday afternoon.

The charge stems from an incident between Williams and an 18-year-old woman that took place on Dec. 5. According to an arrest affidavit filed in Douglas County District Court, a KU police officer interviewed the victim at around 11:15 a.m. on Dec. 6, with the woman stating “she was punched in the stomach, as well as grabbed by the throat” by Williams at Stouffer Apartments on campus the previous day.

The affidavit said the woman had bruises on her arms and side. She also showed text messages to the officer from Williams “where he admitted to punching (her) in the arms,” according to the affidavit.

Williams was interviewed by the officer, where he “advised he had pushed (the woman) when he saw her in a room with other guys,” according to the affidavit.

Both the woman and Williams stated they had an intimate relationship with each other after having first met in July of 2018.

The KU football program did not have further comment on the matter or Williams’ status with the team Wednesday. Previously, KU football coach Les Miles suspended Williams on Dec. 7.

“We are aware of a reported incident involving Pooka Williams and we are taking these allegations very seriously,” Miles said then. “We have suspended Pooka from all team-related activities pending further investigation.”

Williams, who was the Big 12’s offensive freshman of the year and also a first-team all-Big 12 coaches selection at both running back and kick returner, rushed for 1,125 yards last season.

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Jesse Newell — he’s won an EPPY for best sports blog and previously has been named top beat writer in his circulation by AP’s Sports Editors — has covered KU sports since 2008. His interest in sports analytics comes from his math teacher father, who handed out rulers to Trick-or-Treaters each year.