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Officials await return of ex-USC professor accused of sex crimes

June 19, 2013|By Andrew Blankstein and Robert J. Lopez

U.S. officials are working with Mexican authorities to bring a former USC professor accused of sexually abusing children back into this country, FBI officials said.

Walter Lee Williams, 64, was arrested Tuesday evening by Mexican authorities, Bill Lewis, FBI assistant director in charge, said in a statement. Williams was on the bureau's 10-most-wanted list. His image remained on the site Wednesday morning, with “captured” posted across the bottom.

Williams was captured in Playa del Carmen along the Caribbean in the state of Quintana Roo, according to media reports in Mexico.

He is charged with the sexual exploitation of children, traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, the FBI said.

The FBI was planning to release additional details at a news conference Wednesday, spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

“We have to respect the agents in the [U.S.] Embassy and our Mexican counterparts by reserving comment while they are working through [the] legal process,” Eimiller said Wednesday morning.

A four-count federal indictment filed April 30 alleges crimes involving two 14-year-old boys that Williams met online in 2010. He allegedly "engaged in sexual activity via Internet webcam sessions with the boys and expressed a desire to visit them in the Philippines to have sex," the FBI said in a statement.

At least 10 alleged victims between the ages of 9 and 17 were identified by authorities, according to the FBI. Many live in Third World countries, the bureau said, and Williams has lived in and traveled extensively across Southeast Asia and Polynesia.

Williams went to the Philippines in January 2011, where he is suspected of committing "sexually explicit conduct" with the boys, took photos of the encounters and brought the photos back to Los Angeles County, the indictment said.

Williams fled Los Angeles after he was questioned by FBI agents, according to Eimiller.

"Because of his status, he has the means and access to children, and that's what makes him dangerous," FBI Special Agent Jeff Yesensky said in a video released by the agency. "He preys on the most vulnerable children."

Williams taught anthropology, gender studies and history at USC, according to a university Web page that has since been taken down.

He is an author and Fulbright Award winner who received the USC General Education Outstanding Teacher Award in 2006. He was also recognized for his work with the gay and lesbian community.


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