The retrial of a repeat child molester from Blaine ended in guilty verdicts on 10 counts of sex crimes against children and, for a second time, a life sentence.
This week Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig ordered Frederick James Williams Jr., 50, to spend life in prison without parole for raping and sexually abusing two girls younger than 14.
Williams had been convicted of the same crimes in 2011. But last year the Washington State Court of Appeals overturned the case and returned it to Whatcom County for a new trial. The appeals court ruled that, during the first trial, a jury had been unfairly prejudiced against Williams because witnesses mentioned a previous similar sex crime conviction.
That first victim, in the ’90s, was younger than 6 when Williams fondled and sexually touched her. He was convicted of rape of a child in the first degree in 1992.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
Williams turned to alcohol after the arrest and, one day while very drunk, he jumped from a moving car and ran from police, according to a Department of Corrections evaluator’s report. Court records show he was terminated from sex offender treatment, transferred to a new treatment provider, then terminated again when he failed to do required assignments.
A man close to Williams let him live in his home because he had nowhere else to go. Williams raped and molested two girls in the home. They came forward many years later, as teenagers.
They reported that over a time span of years Williams sexually assaulted them, and told them to tell no one. For one of the girls it started when she was younger than 10; for the other girl, it started when she was a preteen. Blaine police confronted Williams with their stories in 2009. He asked the officer to shoot him, or to hand over a gun so he could shoot himself. He was arrested.
During the first trial, four out of 14 counts of molestation and rape were dismissed due to a lack of evidence. The jury convicted Williams on the other 10 counts. Under state law certain sex offenses require only two strikes for a required sentence of life without parole. This was Williams’ second strike.
“He was given a second chance. He squandered … trust and affection, and hurt two more children,” a DOC evaluator wrote. “Frederick Williams is a danger to society.”
This year during the retrial Williams started out representing himself and cross-examining witnesses. A couple of days in, Williams said he had a migraine headache and asked to delay the trial. The deputy prosecutor objected. Eventually Williams’ standby counsel, Thomas Fryer, stepped in and represented him for the remainder of the trial.
A jury deliberated for about five hours Oct. 30 before finding Williams guilty as charged: four counts of first-degree child molestation, three counts of first-degree rape of a child, two counts of second-degree child molestation and one count of second-degree rape of a child.
Uhrig sentenced Williams on Thursday, Dec. 11. Neither victim wanted to speak at the hearing, said Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Sawyer.
Sawyer, who represented the state in both of the recent trials, filed new charges against Williams this fall: two counts of child molestation in the third degree. Another person came forward this year — when he found out there would be a retrial — saying he had been molested by Williams, too, as a teenager. He had been out of the state when the other victims came forward and, when Williams was convicted the first time, he didn’t think he needed to say anything because of the life sentence, according to charging papers. He changed his mind when the case was overturned.
Sawyer said he’s unsure if the new case will need to go to trial, because Williams is already sentenced to life in prison.