The Dallas police said Thursday that neither Michael Irvin nor Erik Williams would be arrested anytime soon, and that the investigation into a rape complaint against the two Cowboys players was still in the early stages.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the police said they had not interviewed Irvin, a star receiver, or Williams, an offensive lineman, and that there was no time frame for when they would be interviewed. They said it could take “several days to several weeks” to complete their investigation into a complaint filed by a 23-year-old woman, who accused Irvin of holding a gun to her head while Williams and a third unidentified man raped her in Williams’ North Dallas home on Sunday.
That means both players will be available to play against the Panthers in Charlotte on Sunday in a National Football Conference divisional playoff game.
“The fact that the police haven’t made any arrests, the fact that the police recently toned down the investigation and police recently stopped talking to the press about baseless accusations reflects where the investigation is headed,” said Peter Ginsberg, a Washington-based lawyer who is representing Williams, as he addressed the news media outside the team’s practice facility.
Irvin left the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch practice facility Thursday evening without making a statement. Williams, who had both his New York-based lawyer and Ginsberg by his side, stood before a clutch of reporters and television cameras and professed his innocence.
“I’ve been falsely accused of something that I didn’t do,” Williams said. “And I’m looking forward to the truth coming out as soon as possible. I’m not a bad person. I realize the responsibility and the privileges that it takes to being a Dallas Cowboy. I’m looking forward to the truth coming out. Thank you.”
Thursday’s statement by the police represents a significant slowing down of the department’s movement on the case. On Tuesday, when they first announced that the players were under investigation, the police said charges could be brought as early as Thursday.
Among the reasons for the caution, according to several people in the police department familiar with the investigation, is an internal struggle within the department over the woman’s credibility. That, they said, might have slowed their pursuit of arrest warrants against Williams and Irvin.
In addition, the people in the department said, evidence taken from the scene, including a videotape of the alleged assault, does not conclusively place Irvin at Williams’ house. Royce West, Irvin’s lawyer, said his client has an alibi for Sunday night, but West would not reveal it.
There were published reports Thursday that Irvin was at the Cowboys Sports Cafe, a restaurant near the team’s Valley Ranch practice facility, on Sunday night. Kim Aitkin, a manager at the restaurant, refused to comment on whether Irvin was there. West said Irvin was not at the restaurant.
Dallas coach Barry Switzer, who hasn’t appeared worried about losing either player for the game this weekend, did not express any relief over news that they would definitely be available for the Panthers game.
“We all know what is right and what is wrong when we make those choices,” Switzer said. “I don’t know if anything was wrong with this situation. From what I know and from my perspective, I don’t think there was anything that really was wrong.”
The defending league champions are trying to win their fourth Super Bowl in five years. Williams, a 1997 Pro Bowl pick, and Irvin, one of the game’s top receivers, have been key figures in Dallas’ success.
Ginsberg took the Dallas Police Department to task for the way they have handled the complaint from the woman. The police have not formally asked to interview Williams, and Ginsberg said he was not going to voluntarily make him available until they conducted themselves in a more professional manner.
“The truth is that the accusation is wrong and Erik Williams has done nothing illegal, and when this investigation concludes, and hopefully it will conclude by the police in a professional manner as opposed to the manner it has been conducted to this point, that Erik will be vindicated and Erik can go on with his life and his reputation will not have been too badly scarred by what has gone on in the press and by the police,” Ginsberg said.
“We at the appropriate time will address all of the evidence and the facts underlying the allegations. We’re not prepared to fight this fight in the press. When this is over, we’ll address all of those questions such as whether this woman was at his house.”
Ginsberg said they have provided the police with evidence that will “assist the police in expeditiously concluding this investigation and concluding that Erik did nothing illegal.”
Both Williams and Irvin were supposed to answer questions from the police Thursday, but they did not. Irvin left the team’s practice facility around lunchtime and returned 45 minutes later. Williams did not leave the team’s practice facility all day.