“There has been some misunderstanding about the purpose behind the Social Justice Advocacy Forums taking place in Stillwater. Rev. Jesse Jackson and those of us who attended Thursday prayed for Darrell Williams, who we believe was wrongly accused and convicted, and for the other victims - the women who wrongfully accused him, his family members and those who may be harmed because the actual perpetrator is still running free. This is a typical case of wrongful conviction, but the list of victims is long and we can’t forget all the others who have or will be affected by unfairness in our justice system. The ultimate victims, however, are the citizens of Oklahoma when our laws fail to clarify punishments and we lack standardized sentencing guidelines that ensure people are treated fairly and equitably regardless of where they live in Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma’s justice system is broken. Another OSU athlete was accused of a similar crime in Cherokee County but the D.A. in that county dropped the charges. In Payne County, if nothing changes, Darrell will have to register as a sex offender and serve two years in prison for a crime we believe he didn’t commit. This is a perfect example of why we must create a set of standardized sentencing guidelines that apply to all 77 counties instead of each county working under different sets of guidelines. Had Darrell lived in Tahlequah, he would possibly be free.
“This is a no-win case for all involved. Darrell is a stellar athlete and a 4.0 student who has been wrongly accused yet his life could be forever changed because his accusers chose his picture from an OSU sports roster rather than an actual lineup. A jury consisting of none of his peers unfairly judged him. Even if they wanted to, his accusers could not withdraw their statements because of the possibility of perjury.
“No one wins when our system is broken, but something positive did come out of the forum when about 30 people, including members of the OSU basketball team, registered to vote. They can now add their voices to the fight for justice and equality. Change is slow but all things are possible through prayer, and we’re well on our way.”
“The judge’s decision to grant a continuance is an acknowledgment that all is not as it appears. I want to thank Rev. Jesse Jackson and everyone who was involved in the advocacy forum. Together we helped open the eyes of justice to the wrongful nature of this case. Darrell and his counsel will now get another chance to prove his innocence and we will be able to continue to work towards healing for victims and a broken system.”