The 22-year-old woman accused of stealing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during the U.S. Capitol riots earlier this month appeared for a virtual court hearing on Tuesday, the day after federal prosecutors accused Riley Williams of using the internet while on house arrest in a possible attempt to destroy of evidence.
According to WHTM, a federal judge ruled to restrict Williams’ internet access while she is under her mother’s supervision following her release from jail late last week. On Monday, federal prosecutors alleged that Williams had removed her social medial accounts and contacted a “discord associate,” encouraging them to delete data that could be significant to the investigation.
“We have evidence that Ms. Williams was instructing one of her discord associates to delete messages, and those messages had to do with the capital riot events,” federal prosecutor Mona Sedky said in court Tuesday morning, according to the report.
A reporter for Newsy who attended the hearing said in a Twitter thread that Williams’ attorney said her client had deleted the social media accounts because of an abusive ex-boyfriend, believed to be one of the key witnesses in the case against Williams. As CrimeOnline previously reported, the ex-boyfriend told investigators that Williams had stolen or helped to steal a laptop computer from Pelosi’s office in order to sell it to Russia.
Williams is facing charges of theft, unlawful entry, and disorderly conduct. Her attorney has denied the allegations, and argued that the ex-boyfriend is not a credible witness, as he allegedly wants “revenge” against her. The lawyer said on Tuesday that Williams is seeking a restraining order against him.
Also from the virtual hearing, a Washington Post reporter said on Twitter that the judge asked prosecutor Mona Sedky why the Department of Justice was not asking for Williams’ bail to be revoked.
Sedky reportedly indicated that she was uncomfortable sharing details about the case that would explain why the DOJ is not asking for Williams to be returned to custody, as it could potentially jeopardize the investigation.
“I’m very uncomfortable discussing the facts of this case at this stage,” Sedky said, according to PennLive.com.
While prosecutors asked that Williams be prohibited from using the internet, Williams’ attorney argued that her client needed it to communicate and to look for a job. The lawyer also claimed there is no evidence that Williams has or ever had Pelosi’s laptop.
The judge ruled to restrict Williams’ internet access, which she can now use only to communicate with her legal defense and access mental health resources. She will have access to only a flip phone without internet access and her mother’s iPad, which can only be used with her mother’s supervision. Williams will not be required to obtain employment while her internet access is restricted, a previous condition of her bail.
“It’s very troubling conduct in the criminal complaint, frankly something like nothing else in the cases that we’ve seen so far,” the judge said of Williams’ case.
The defendant is next due to appear in court on March.