The woman accused of stealing a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol will be released, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
Riley Williams, 22, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is charged with violent entry or disorderly conduct, entering the restricted space of the Capitol, obstructing of impeding an official proceeding as well as aiding and abetting the stealing of government property. She was arrested Monday.
US Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson approved a bail package agreed upon by prosecutors and Williams’ attorney, telling Williams that while she is presumed innocent of the charges, her alleged actions during the insurrection were “antithetical” to Constitutional values.
“We know now that the mob failed and the Constitution prevailed. The Constitution prevailed … because Congress, stepping over the wreckage of its Capitol, met and confirmed with the Vice President of the United States the vote of the electoral college, setting the stage for the latest peaceful transition of power yesterday,” Carlson said.
“You are being released today because the Constitution has prevailed. Because your counsel has fulfilled her Constitutional obligation. And because the United States is fulfilling its Constitutional duty to strike hard blows, but fair blows, in the pursuit of justice,” Carlson continued. “So, I share that thought with you as you leave here today that your freedom – conditioned as it is by the orders that I’ve entered – is a result of the prevailing of the Constitution. The Constitution prevails here today. And the Constitution will always prevail in this country.”
Williams will remain in home confinement with electronic monitoring and travel restrictions. She has been ordered not to communicate with possible co-defendants.
Prosecutors initially recommended Williams be kept in custody, in part, because they believed she had attempted to flee, after leaving her home and changing her phone number. But Williams’ attorney Lori Ulrich said in court Thursday that her client changed her number at the recommendation of local police after being threatened by an abusive ex-boyfriend. Ulrich said the ex-boyfriend is listed in court filings as the witness who made allegations including that Williams was at the Capitol.
“It is regrettable that Ms. Williams took the President’s bait and went inside the Capitol. However, based on our initial investigation and preparation for today, it is our position that the allegations surrounding the theft of Speaker Pelosi’s computer came in part from a former abusive boyfriend,” Ulrich said. “He has threatened Ms. Williams in a number of ways…His accusations are overstated.”
In an amended court filing, prosecutors allege that Williams appears to have filmed a gloved hand lifting a laptop off a table in the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“There is text across the video clip that reads: ‘they got the laptop.’ Given how loud Williams’ voice is, it seems likely that she was the one holding the cell phone camera,” law enforcement wrote in an affidavit.