CRAWFORD | Larry Wilder talks to WDRB about Powell and NCAA, Pitino not knowing and Elvis
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Katina Powell is going to the NCAA, her attorney Larry Wilder told WDRB’s Stephan Johnson on Thursday.
If you wondered what would be the upshot of the news earlier this week that several women were coming forward to sue for defamation, claiming they danced with Powell at University of Louisville parties but never had sex with anyone, this is it.
Powell, according to Wilder, now feels she has nothing to lose, and will speak with the NCAA soon. Whether she has nothing to lose is debatable, but there’s no debating that at the very least, her journals and text messages appear headed to a Jefferson County grand jury, and perhaps into the public domain eventually.
We’d been hearing a lot from people who oppose Powell this week, and from her youngest daughter on Facebook, who published some things not in line with what her mother’s book said.
But Wilder sat down with WDRB’s Johnson for 40 minutes on Thursday, offering a look at recent events from Katina Powell's perspective, and providing answers to questions that were sometimes quite pointed. More on those below.
The most notable news Wilder offered regarded his client's journals and text messages. He said the messages were retrieved from Powell’s phone by an Indianapolis company that does such things, they were verified and categorized onto an index which the company has used since, in compiling the book. That, we had already heard. It’s the material that was showed to ESPN. Wilder insists the journals comprise a legitimate record of Powell’s activities. What we hadn't heard was the sheer volume of material that would be turned over.
“It’s not like she has one journal that’s this date and supposedly is over four years and here’s your journal,” Wilder told Johnson. “It’s a stack of journals and they have mundane and rum-dum entries, like, ‘Something happened today with one of the grandchildren and here’s what I did, this is what we did and we went and got ice cream.' And the reason I say that, the reason I think that’s important is, it is clear that those were contemporaneously created documents based on the facts of what were going on at the time. Her cell phone, 1,400 text messages between her and Andre McGee. Her cell phone, several hundred text messages between her and Terrance Williams. Her cell phone, you can’t create this kind of evidence to create a hoax.”
Wilder had some good lines regarding Williams, who told TMZ that he didn’t need to pay for sex, because he was like Elvis in Louisville. Wilder noted that the text message trail says otherwise.
“Elvis paid,” Wilder said.
But that’s not an altogether important fact in U of L’s ongoing investigation with the NCAA. Williams was no longer a player at the school after 2009, and what he did two years later shouldn’t impact what happened with the program — unless the text messages reveal some other kind of involvement.
Of more pertinence is what Wilder had to say when asked whether he thought U of L coach Rick Pitino knew anything about the alleged actions. He said he didn’t doubt former director of basketball operations Andre McGee told Powell that, “Rick knows everything.” But Wilder said he sees nothing in the evidence Powell has that would link Pitino directly to anything that happened.
“As a lawyer, I can tell you as we sit here right now today, I have no knowledge of any demonstrative evidence, any admissible evidence, any circumstantial evidence, that would cause me as a lawyer to believe that there is any ability to demonstrate that coach Rick Pitino had knowledge of what was gong on,” Wilder said. “I can say that without hesitation, having had benefit of all the information I have."
Wilder said Powell hasn’t taken a polygraph test. He noted that the players who have come forward to corroborate portions of her account are all the polygraph she needs, along with the journals and text messages she has. (Two sources have told WDRB that U of L coach Rick Pitino voluntarily offered to take a polygraph test, and passed. Polygraphs are not admissible as evidence in court. Pitino is declining any comment on the investigation on the advice of counsel.)
Wilder said he thinks a large segment of the Louisville fan base remains in denial, despite some corroboration from media outlets like ESPN and even the women who came forward this week acknowledging at least part of Powell’s story — even as they denied a key part.
“Fans are not accepting some of the things of baseline importance of what happened,” Wilder said. “The fans aren’t ready to grasp and understand that, ‘Now what we thought was nothing had happened, now it’s pretty clear that the least we can see is these things were happening inside the basketball dorm involving our recruits and these players, and what do we do about it?' Instead, it’s still kind of, ‘None of this happened, it’s all a lie, she’s telling lies and the book’s a lie. We’re going to put on our blinders and become myopic about what happened and just go forward and be OK with it.'"
I want to share a couple of exchanges, because they give you a feel for the way the interview went at times. Here, for example, is a back-and-forth between Johnson and Wilder on her attorney’s notion that Powell is not unlike those who came forward in the Catholic church to accuse priests of sexual abuse, at least in terms of challenging a popular institution.
SJ: You say she’s being vilified. People are not vilifying her for what happens. They’re vilifying her because she came out and is talking about it as if she’s throwing people under the bus.
LW: "So let me ask you this: Do you think it was a bad thing, and I’m Catholic so I can say this, do you think it was a bad thing when the young Catholic men who were molested by Catholic priests came forward because that institution was shook at its roots after that? So were they wrong for coming forward?"
SJ: You’re talking about rape versus prostitution.
LW: "I’m talking about the concept of hiding something to protect an institution."
SJ: Were any of the women raped, though, Larry? Seriously?
SJ: It’s apples and oranges.
LW: "No, we’re talking about the institution and truth and shining the light of day on truth. And it’s the same thing. What you’re talking about is, people are vilifying her because she came forward and told the story. That’s no different than those young men coming forward and telling the story, and it shook my church at its roots and it changed my church at its roots, and that’s why today I’m very proud to say that the Pope is a wonderful man that is offering a whole different view of things for the Catholic church. So hopefully, all of this will result in a re-evaluation of what we’re doing on a regular daily basis with young people and sports and education."
Another exchange, this one on the latest legal troubles of Powell’s youngest daughter, Shay, and some recent Facebook posts claiming that her mother was strict and essentially stating that many of the wild tales of her life under Powell’s roof were not true.
SJ: Regarding her daughters, how has she reacted to one (Shay) being brought into court, and some of the stuff her youngest daughter reportedly put on Facebook, saying she (the daughter) introduced them to the business, but also saying she was a very strict mother?
LW: I would say that those statements are a pretty clear statement of who Katina Powell is. There’s a dichotomy. She apparently has been a very strict mother in many, many senses, and then of course what was going on with the parties and her daughters coming to the parties and doing those things isn’t consistent with what you would think of as a very strict parent. But from all the indications I have she was a very strict mother, very loving mother. They’re a really close group of ladies.
It’s very difficult for a lot of us to understand what people choose to do who aren’t in the world we’re in. And to appreciate and understand what went on with Katina and her daughters, you have to have a full appreciation of where she is in this world in her life. We inflict and put our morals and our ethics and our choices of right and wrong, we subject other people with our personal beliefs when we judge them, rather than understanding in their world what is considered right, what is considered wrong, what is considered appropriate, and what is considered inappropriate, I think that’s the wrong thing to do.
SJ: But not when we’re saying she should obey the law of the land and not engage in prostitution?
LW: Well, you know, we’re supposed to not speed. And we’re supposed to not drink too much and drive. And we’re supposed to not do all of these other things that are the law of the land, but the acceptability of it becomes something that encourages it to occur. And not fully understanding the world that she has been in and lived in and was a part of and the acceptability of what she was dong and what that behavior was — I’m amazed, I’m truly amazed, men and women, who talk about going to the club on the weekends. In my world and lifetime, going to the club meant you went down on Market Street to the City Lights on Market Street and listened to a band. In their world, the club is a guy and his girlfriend going to a strip club. And I’ve heard that discussion.
And finally, this back and forth, about Powell’s motives for doing what she did, and how that should be viewed by the public.
LW: "When you look back on what Ms. Powell has said, her first effort was with the NCAA, and her first effort was to inform the NCAA, the body that oversees basketball and universities and recruiting, what was going on at the University of Louisville. When she didn’t have anyone there to listen to her, and I’m not impugning the NCAA — I don’t know how it was delivered to them that she wanted to talk and what she wanted to talk about, and maybe whoever answered the phone didn’t understand where that call needed to go — but when she failed at that point is when she ended up writing the book because she felt like the first thing she wanted to do was inform the governing body, and the second thing was, well if the governing body didn’t want to get involved, she Googled publishers in Indiana and wound up with The Indiana Business Journal.
LW: "When you get to the place sometimes in life where you look back on some things you’ve done, you feel like there might be a time to come clean."
SJ: So you think she has changed and wanted to come clean?
LW: "I think so much of it is it was time for her to leave that behind and move forward and do something different, and I felt she felt like that was an ending point and this coming forward was another part of the ending point."
SJ: "Do you think people are going to buy that?"
LW: "They don’t have to buy that. But it’s her personal belief. I think that in my business. over the course of 31 years, I’ve had lots of individuals tell me that when their illegal behavior, conduct finally ended — and many times when they were arrested, not because they chose — it was one of the most peaceful times in their life."
SJ: So she doesn’t do anything like that now?
LW: "Actually she’s a grandma. She takes care of her three grandchildren. She was working. Before she came forward she had left it behind and was actually working for a company that provided maintenance and cleaned the bathrooms and the common areas for the university."
SJ: Because I have to tell you, when I heard that, I just thought, that’s bull. I just can’t buy it.
LW: "And I understand where people can think that that is not genuine, but I truly — "
SJ: Because you’ve got this woman who is essentially prostituting her own daughters, but then she’s saying I want to warn parents whose kids are coming to school at U of L. You want more for those children than you want for your own?
LW: "Maybe that was the tipping point realizing, ‘Here I am, and my daughters have started to become involved in what I now see as something I really don’t want to be involved in."
And on this goes. Watch more of Johnson’s interview with Wilder on WDRB News, and WDRB News in the Morning. And read the latest here at WDRB.com.
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