A 20-year-old man is headed to prison, possibly for life, after he blew a “huge break,” prosecutors say, by violating his plea bargain in the rape of a 13-year-old Colorado Springs girl.
A month after ruling that Clarence Williams repeatedly violated his probation, 4th Judicial District Judge Michael McHenry sentenced him Tuesday to an indeterminate sentence of two years to life, prompting a shriek from one of his supporters.
“I have concluded that you cannot be safely supervised in the community,” McHenry said in rejecting Williams’ pleas for leniency.
It was the latest turn in a two-year legal saga that has drawn headlines across the country and led to threats against McHenry, who was criticized for accepting what some saw as lenient plea bargains. In each case, the judge did so at the request of prosecutors, who cited evidentiary problems.
Six males were arrested in the case, in which the girl said she was pinned to a bed and raped in an apartment on the city’s east side in December 2016.
At court hearings rived by conflict among spectators, Williams and three co-defendants pleaded guilty to violating age-of-consent laws and were spared prison. A fifth, so-called “ring leader” Jacolby Williams, was convicted in May of forcible rape. He was sentenced in November to 16 years to life.
Prosecutors dismissed charges against the sixth defendant, who was 16 at the time, after police uncovered evidence supporting his claim that the girl gave him consent.
Because of the age difference between the girl and adult defendants, any sexual activity between them was a crime.
In pushing for a prison sentence Tuesday, the girl’s grandmother told the court the girl has spiraled since the attack despite mental health treatment. As the second anniversary of her rape approached, her anxiety attacks were so severe that they triggered seizures, her grandmother said.
“I think it should have been more than two years to life,” the grandfather said after the hearing.
Williams was serving 10 years to life on sex offender intensive supervised probation after pleading guilty in April to sex assault. His probation got off to a rocky start and never recovered, reported El Paso County probation officer Priscilla Jimenez. During a two-part hearing in October, she rattled off a series of missed appointments by Williams and said he repeatedly visited prohibited places and failed to take his sex offender treatment seriously.
His court-appointed attorney, Jeremy Loew, suggested Williams was singled out because of publicity around the case. He asked the judge to re-grant Williams’ probation, calling it his first probation violation after his first felony conviction. Loew also cited his client’s IQ, said to be in the 80s, in arguing that he tried to comply with his treatment.
Williams, who allegedly insulted sex assault victims during group therapy sessions, told the judge he deserved a second chance. He called probation requirements “hard” and speculated that his probation officer was being paid by the victim’s relatives.
“I’m not Superman,” he told McHenry.
A woman’s scream as Williams was sentenced marked the only fireworks at Tuesday’s proceedings. McHenry ordered deputies to escort her out.
In previous hearings, relatives of the defendants interrupted court and shouted epithets in the hallway outside. The mother and grandmother of the victim both alleged that they and the girl have been threatened since the arrests.