Facing domestic violence charges, Sparks guard Riquna Williams gets waiver to not appear in court yesterday, next court date set for July 3
7/8/16 Update: Williams’ court date is postponed until August 16, 2019.
Since news of Los Angeles Sparks guard Riquna Williams’ arrest for assaulting an ex became public in late April, the league and team, outside of terse short statements, have been silent about the domestic violence incident. At the time, Williams was an unrestricted free agent and not signed with the Sparks.
The team’s statement from May 29:
“The Los Angeles Sparks are aware of the allegations surrounding guard Riquna Williams We’re monitoring the situation and will have no comment until the legal process is completed.”
Williams had a court hearing Thursday, June 6 but did not appear in person. According to court documents on the Palm Beach County’s Clerk website, her lawyer secured a “written waiver of defendant’s appearance for all pretrial conferences.” Her next court date is set for July 3, a “status check” under judge Daliah Weiss.
In December, Williams forcibly entered the home of her ex and assaulted the woman, striking her on the head and pulling her hair. Two men in the house said it took them ten minutes to separate Williams from the victim. In retaliation, Williams retrieved a firearm from her car and pointed it at one of the men and said “you’ll get all 18” before leaving the scene.
According to authorities, the female victim said Williams had been violent in the past and that the couple were not together anymore.
Paperwork on the case appeared on the county clerk’s website in late January with felony charges listed as 1) burglary with assault or battery, and 2) aggravated assault with a firearm. The county issued a warrant January 23. Williams plead not guilty to both counts May 6.
Bonds for the charges were set at $15,000 and $5,000 on April 30 the day after Williams’ arrest, followed by a notice of hearing. The court also ordered Williams to have “no contact with victims” in a document that includes the ex and the two men who halted the assault. There are two defense attorneys listed in court documents: D. Paige Riccardo and Cyrus Toufanian. The state attorney is Timothy Beckwith.
During the WNBA’s offseason, Williams played in Turkey. She first joined the Sparks in an offseason trade in 2016 with the Dallas Wings. Since her arrest and re-signing by the Los Angeles Sparks on May 15, many fans have been vocal about having someone accused of domestic violence still playing, especially given the policies of other major leagues on the issue especially the NBA, NFL and MLB.
The NBA Players Association and the NBA have a joint domestic abuse policy in their collective bargaining agreement that also covers sexual assault and child abuse. Under the NBA agreement, a player can be punished by the league regardless of whether domestic violence charges have been resolved. A player can be placed on leave during the league’s internal investigation.
The WNBA and its associated player’s union are set to begin negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement in October 2019. The current CBA went into effect in 2014. It remains to be seen whether a concrete and joint domestic violence policy will be on the table in October.
In Williams’ case, she participated in training camp, one preseason game and played in or attended all of her team’s regular season games as normal. Per the team’s spokesperson “Riquna has been available to media. She’s done multiple interviews and is available just like all her teammates during the league mandated media availability windows.”
The Sparks are in a midst of a road trip. They played at Connecticut yesterday. Williams attended the game but saw no minutes. Los Angeles faces Minnesota tomorrow in Minneapolis.
This is not the first time a WNBA player has been accused of domestic violence. In May 2015, Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson were suspended for seven games following a domestic violence incident on April 22, 2015. The duo faced identical misdemeanor charges of assault and disorderly conduct.
It took the league less than a month to issue the punishment in that case along with a statement that began:
“The WNBA takes all acts of violence extremely seriously. It is our strong belief that violence has absolutely no place in society, in sports or in this league.”
At the time, Laurel Richie led the WNBA as president and said in the statement: “Brittney and Glory’s conduct is detrimental to the best interests of the WNBA and violates applicable law.”
The new commissioner of the league, Cathy Engelbert, does not start her new position until July 17. In the meantime, decisions have come down to the league’s interim president Mark Tatum and WNBA chief operating officer Christin Hedgpeth.
- Palm Beach County Court Records
- Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson arrested for suspicion of assault, teams release statements
- WNBA president: Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson suspended for seven regular-season games for domestic violence incident