LAWRENCE, Kan. -- KU star running back Anthony "Pooka" Williams was arrested Thursday and charged Friday with misdemeanor domestic battery, leading to his suspension from the team.
The University of Kansas released the following statement about the alleged Dec. 5 incident:
"On December 6, 2018, an 18-year-old female student reported in the early morning hours of December 5, 2018, she was in a physical altercation with a 19-year-old male student in Stouffer Place Apartments. The female reported minor injuries, which did not require medical attention. The suspect was interviewed and subsequently arrested at the KU Public Safety Office. He was booked into the Douglas County Jail. The report will be forwarded to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office."
Williams appeared via video at his first court hearing Friday afternoon where his attorney entered a not-guilty plea.
A judge set a $1,000 bond. He later was released from jail after posting bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 9.
Kansas Head Coach Les Miles provided this statement:
“We are aware of a reported incident involving Pooka Williams, and we are taking these allegations very seriously. We have suspended Pooka from all team-related activities pending further investigation.”
Williams earned Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors and was named to the All-Big 12 First Team. He ran for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns, adding 289 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions.
KU fans were hopeful for the running back's future.
"It's definitely sad to hear," said Tyler Cargill, a KU student. "I don`t know exactly what happened but if he is found guilty of domestic battery, I don't think he should continue to play for the University of Kansas."
"I think it's an unfortunate situation," KU student Travis Andregg said, "especially since our newly hired head coach just came forth and just said that, you know, it`s gonna be a good year, a good opportunity to build a team around this good player. So it's an unfortunate situation for everyone."
As of right now, Williams is suspended from all team-related activities pending further investigation.
"I don't agree with acts of domestic battery," Cargill said. "These people, these athletes are being looked up to. They have a big stage, and they should be able to act responsible and show that they should be able to play at the University of Kansas without having these outside incidents like that."
Willow Domestic Violence Center, an advocacy group and shelter in Lawrence, said that "big stage" brings awareness to the problem of domestic abuse.
"It obviously it makes things difficult for the team or the group where the person came from because they`re gonna have to have a lot of scrutiny," said Megan Stuke, director of the center. "But we feel like that scrutiny is important and a good thing for growth and future safety for everyone."
Stuke couldn't comment on Williams's charges directly, but she said domestic violence can happen to anyone, of any age from any background. Prominent figures are no exception.
"The important thing to say is not to victim blame and not to say that maybe the person has some sort of fault in the situation," Stuke said. "So it`s really important to focus our attention on the person who perpetrated the crime."