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story.lead_photo.caption Johnathan Williams

NEW BOSTON, Texas — A Bloomburg, Texas, man was sentenced to 45 years in prison Thursday after being found guilty of sexually abusing his former wife's younger relative more than a decade ago.

Johnathan Edward Williams, 36, took the stand Thursday morning and called the victim and another witness liars. The witness, a lifelong, childhood friend of the victim's, testified Wednesday about inappropriate touching and other conduct she witnessed by Williams when she was under the age of 10.

Williams was found guilty of one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact. The jury sentenced Williams to 30 years on the aggravated charge and 15 years on each of the indecency charges. The 15-year terms were ordered to run concurrently to each other but consecutively to the 30-year term for a total 45-year sentence.

Williams began touching the girl when she just 8 years old and he was a teen dating her older relative. As the years passed, Williams continued his sexual abuse of the girl, telling her it was acceptable because he loved her. Williams told the girl not to tell because it would disrupt their families and leave his daughter without a father. The victim testified that Williams told her she was beautiful and that he wished he could marry her while showing her a website listing the age of consent to marriage in other countries.

The victim testified that she has struggled with her secret and with depression and anxiety resulting from the sexual abuse. In January 2018, she and her friend were advised by another friend to speak to the sexual assault coordinator at Texarkana Domestic Violence Prevention.

Kim Neff of DVPP advised the victim of her options and days later the victim elected to report Williams to law enforcement.

Texarkana Children's Advocacy Center Missy Davison testified that the victim's description of Williams included textbook victim grooming and that many abusers engage in their misconduct even while other family members are at home.

First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards asked the jury to consider what Williams took from the victim and what he has done to his and her families. Williams' lawyer, David James of Texarkana, asked the jury for probation, arguing that he has no prior criminal convictions, is a hard worker and provides for his daughter.

Under current Texas law, probation is not an option for a defendant convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Under the law existing in 2004 and 2005, defendants were eligible for probation if sentenced to 10 or fewer years and if recommended by the jury.

Richards argued that probation is for someone who accepts responsibility for their actions.

"Probation is for someone who admits what they've done, is remorseful for what they've done, and wants help," Richards argued. "That's not what we've got here."

Crisp told the jury that Williams' behavior warrants a prison sentence.

"I'm going to be asking you to send him out the back door of this courthouse in the custody of the sheriff to the penitentiary," Crisp said. "We do not walk people convicted of molesting children out the front door."

Upon his release from prison, Williams will be required to register as a sex offender.

 

llarowe@texarkanagazette.com

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