A Fort Worth man has been sentenced to 30 years behind bars after pleading guilty on February 28 to charges of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a minor. James Williams, 55, of Fort Worth, was sentenced for his 2015 abduction and rape of a then-13-year-old female. Williams was identified as a suspect in 2018.
Despite a lengthy criminal history that included a conviction for attempted kidnapping in 1999, James Williams served as a girls’ high school basketball referee before his arrest in 2019.
Administrators at Glen Rose ISD and Granbury ISD failed to conduct a criminal history background check before hiring the already-convicted sex offender. Both districts have since changed policies to require background checks for all individuals who work with students.
“In consultation with legal counsel, we are increasing our own local procedures to require that all prospective athletic officials submit to a background check through the same system used for booster club members, PTO members, program mentors, and others volunteering on our campuses,” the Granbury school district said in a statement issued at the time Williams was arrested.
Williams was sentenced to two years in jail in 2016 after attempting to kidnap an 11-year-old girl who managed to fight him off and escape, according to WFAA. Her testimony led to his arrest and the collection of DNA that was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
He was convicted of attempted kidnapping and causing bodily harm to the minor. According to her testimony at the time, Williams “hooked her” with his arm and tried to force her into his car, but hit her face against the door, breaking a tooth and cutting her lip.
Williams is known to have targeted young girls who were walking alone. He allegedly approached the girls from behind in at least three cases and used a chokehold to subdue them. He was arrested in 2012 for attempting to kidnap a 12-year-old, but a grand jury did not see enough evidence to return an indictment, according to CBS 11.
In 2015, Williams spotted his 13-year-old victim walking home from a park near the Meadowbrook Golf Course in Fort Worth. He subdued the girl and forced her into his car, then ordered her to turn off her phone and not to scream. Eventually, Williams forced the girl to remove her clothes before he raped her. He dumped the victim in a vacant lot not far from her home.
In addition to the 2016 conviction, Williams also pleaded no contest to kidnapping an unidentified woman in Hawaii in 1994, for which he served 9 months. Williams’ failure to disclose his sex offender status when applying to work as a referee in Texas school districts led to additional charges in 2019.
Judge David Hagerman presided over the 2019 case. Prosecutors Kim D’Avignon and Peter Geiseking worked with investigators Chris LaChance and Angela Stevens from Victim’s Assistance to help identify Williams and bring about the guilty plea.