Kings' Williams focus of sexual assault investigation

Updated: October 19, 2007, 9:16 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Authorities are investigating allegations that Sacramento Kings player Justin Williams sexually assaulted a female acquaintance, a Sacramento Police Department spokesman said Thursday.

Team spokesman Troy Hanson said Williams has been given an indefinite leave of absence and returned to Sacramento from a road trip to New Mexico to obtain a lawyer, a step recommended by team officials.

Hanson would not say whether the team planned to suspend Williams.

"We recently became aware of a complaint involving Justin Williams that apparently is being investigated by the Sacramento police," Hanson said. "We are currently in the process of evaluating any additional information that becomes available to us."

Criminal investigators searched Williams' home Wednesday night, leaving with some items that police are evaluating, police Sgt. Matt Young said during a news conference.

Williams, a 23-year-old reserve center who's entering his second season with the Kings, has not been charged and is cooperating with officers, Young said.

"We are literally right in the middle of this investigation. There is a lot to be done," he said. "It's important we don't jump to any conclusions."

He added: "We are not going to rush anything."

Police launched the investigation after a local hospital advised them last Friday that a patient had reported a sexual assault early that morning. Young declined to describe the type of assault or identify the woman except to say she is in her early 20s and was an acquaintance of the Kings player. Citing law enforcement sources, the Sacramento Bee reported she is a mother of two.

Investigators have spoken with Williams by telephone, as well as another person who was in the house at the time the assault allegedly took place. Young declined to identify the third person.

Williams' agent, Byron Irvin, said he was informed of the search but would not disclose details.

Williams' attorney, William Portanova, called the allegations against his client "unfounded."

"We are confident that this investigation will conclude with an official determination that Justin Williams committed no crime," Portanova said in a statement.

Kings coach Reggie Theus called the situation "unfortunate" and said he hoped the investigation doesn't become a distraction for his team.

"Everything's just kind of coming to us, so we really haven't had a chance to digest it," Theus told The Bee before Thursday's preseason game against Utah in Albuquerque. "It's unfortunate that this situation happened. Obviously, until it becomes a fact, we have to stick by our guy.

"You hope it doesn't turn out in the negative side, but in turn these guys have still got to play the game and take care of their business."

Williams averaged five points in 26 games with Sacramento last season. He played his final two college seasons at Wyoming before signing with the Kings as an undrafted free agent in the summer of 2006. He was cut during the team's 2006 training camp and played with the Dakota Wizards of the NBA's Development League before rejoining the Kings last January.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.

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