A former USC professor of gender and sexuality studies and onetime Palm Springs resident was sentenced Monday in Los Angeles to five years behind bars for flying to the Philippines to have sex with underage boys he met online.
In addition to the prison sentence, 66-year-old Walter Lee Williams was sentenced to ten years of supervised release, ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution and must register as a sex offender for life.
Williams’ onetime Palm Springs roommate, 73-year-old Richard L. Arlington, was arrested last year in connection with the case. Arlington, who shared illicit computer images of children with Williams, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and will be sentenced Dec. 22.
Williams and Arlington were both members of the Buddhist Universal Association in Los Angeles, which espoused an ideology of “extreme sexual freedoms,” according to the FBI.
Seated in a wheelchair during his sentencing hearing in downtown Los Angeles, Williams apologized to the victims and his own family.
“I am 100 percent determined that I will never again make those
mistakes,” he said.
Williams was apprehended by Mexican authorities in the resort city of Playa del Carmen in the state of Quintana Roo in June 2013 — a day after he was added to the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted fugitives.
Williams taught anthropology, gender studies and history at USC for about 20 years until his resignation in February 2011. Under the guise of academic research, he traveled in the Philippines and elsewhere in Southeast Asia to have sex with underage boys, according to the FBI, which reported having identified 10 victims between ages 9 and 17.
In 2010, prior to his travel, Williams initiated webcam sex sessions with two boys ages 13 and 14 and expressed a desire to visit them in the Philippines. While in the Philippines the next year, he engaged in sex acts with both boys, as well as a 15-year-old, and took sexually explicit photos of one of them, court papers show.
Williams fled Los Angeles about a week after returning from the Philippines, after he was questioned by the FBI. In June 2013, a USC attorney provided the FBI with material Williams had donated to the university’s gay and lesbian archives which contained “lascivious visual depictions of minors,” according to papers filed in federal court.
LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore said the case came to light about three years ago, when a Los Angeles resident concerned about the safety of children contacted authorities. Moore said “there are other victims who have suffered by this man’s actions.”
Before the arrest, the FBI received information about a possible location for Williams and asked Mexican authorities to apprehend him.
Williams pleaded guilty in September before U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez to one federal count of engaging in illicit sexual contact in foreign places.
The FBI said Williams has lived in Indonesia, Polynesia and Thailand.