A prominent Charlotte clothier, who was found not guilty this week of misdemeanor assault on a female, says the verdict ended a seven-month ordeal that was as instructive as it was trying.
“When I was arrested, it was plastered all over the city,” William Wilson told the Observer on Thursday. “Then the results come back. ‘Oh by the way, he’s not guilty. We’ll just stick it back somewhere.’ That’s what sucks.”
On Tuesday, Mecklenburg District Judge Jena Culler found Wilson, the owner of William Wilson Custom Clothier on South Graham Street, not guilty in the alleged January assault of a female friend.
The woman told police that Wilson pushed her several times near Romare Bearden Park in uptown.
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The Observer reported the businessman’s arrest prominently on its website. The story appeared on page 11A in the next day’s newspaper.
Wilson, whose foundation raises money to fight domestic violence, maintained his innocence from the start. And while he says his celebrity profile earned bigger headlines for his arrest, it may also have given him an advantage, too.
“A lot of things I already knew. What I didn’t know is how many people get false-accused for these things,” Wilson said. “But I believe in erring on the side of caution. A woman is assaulted every 80 seconds.
“... I was a victim of the laws. But I don’t believe there is a better system.”
Wilson designs clothes for some of the city’s top sports celebrities. He says most of his clients stayed with him, though his foundation’s 2017 celebrity golf tournament – which benefits victims of domestic abuse – raised its lowest total in years.
“I survived this. But it would be nice – and I don’t have the answer – that before someone gets drug through all this, before ‘oh, here’s the next hot thing to get some viewers,’ that there would be some thought on how this is going to affect people down the road,” Wilson said.
“This was a misdemeanor. Like a speeding ticket. I could get 15 tickets and it’s not going to affect my career. One of these could have an astronomical impact ... And if I was found guilty, I’m pretty sure that it would wind up on the front of the paper.”