Activist accused of solicitation says he's innocent

August 23, 2012 11:55:10 AM PDT
The woman charged with soliciting Troy Williams said the community activist gave her a ride on a rainy night and did nothing illegal. Williams has been an outspoken critic of racial profiling during police stops in Fayetteville.

Williams' attorney isn't sure if his client's activism against police had anything to do with the stop and solicitation charges. However, he said police will have a tough time making those charges stick in court.

"It's been tough, but I'm hanging in there," said Williams.

Wednesday afternoon, Williams sat quietly as his attorney, Coy Brewer, explained what happened last week when he was charged with solicitation with Toni Sarty.

"He offered her a ride ... was taking a shortcut through the Bonnie Doone neighborhood. He let her out because she needed to speak with somebody," said Brewer. "She got back in the car and then he was stopped."

The Bonnie Doone area is known for drugs and prostitution.

Brewer said Williams is a community activist with a history of helping the less fortunate wherever they live.

"So, you can't be a community activist and only deal with the most affluent of the community in the most affluent segments of the community," said Brewer.

Fayetteville police didn't talk about the case. However, a spokesman explained it's not unusual for stops to be made and charges filed in areas riddled with crime.

"They can look at those areas. They look at time of day, time of night," said Fayetteville police spokesman Todd Joyce. "It might be their prior knowledge ... having dealt with some of the same individuals in the past, having charged individuals with some of those similar incidents."

Court records show Sarty has been charged several times with soliciting for sex and has served time for drugs violations. Brewer said that's something Williams could not have known.

"All that he did was to - in a situation where there was bad weather and somebody appeared to need a ride - be a Good Samaritan, give her a ride and the police stopped him and arrested him," said Brewer.

Brewer said his client is innocent. He plans to make that case at the Cumberland County Courthouse on Oct. 17.

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