Jury deliberations got underway Wednesday in the trial of a Thousand Palms man accused of molesting two of his wife’s underage relatives more than a decade ago in Cathedral City.
John Clement Williams, 55, is suspected of molesting the sisters over the span of two years between 2008 and 2009, when one of the girls was between 4 and 5 years old and the other was between 7 and 8.
Williams faces a possible life sentence if convicted of six counts of committing lewd acts on a child under 14 year old, with sentence-enhancing allegations of committing sex offenses on multiple victims.
Williams took the stand in his own defense Monday following about a week of testimony at the Riverside Hall of Justice, during which he not only refuted the allegations against him but claimed one of the girls initiated inappropriate conduct without his permission.
“She took my arm, put it over her and put it on top of her crotch area, over her clothes,” Williams said. “When I realized what she had done, I removed it immediately.”
Prosecutors allege some of the conduct occurred when the two girls would sleep in the same bed as the defendant and his wife.
While on the stand, Williams conceded the girls would sleep in the couple’s bed, but testified that the older sister would often pick up his hand and place it on her waist area. He said that one evening, she took it a step further by placing his hand near her crotch, and testified that he never told anyone because he didn’t want to embarrass her.
The girl — now 21 — was the second witness to be called for the prosecution on May 11, and her 20-year-old boyfriend was the first.
She told a drastically different story as she cried on the stand, where she said he repeatedly touched her and engaged in other inappropriate activities against her will. She said the ramifications of the alleged abuse worsened after she entered adulthood.
“I try to put it away and not think about it,” she said. “Now that I’m older, it’s affecting me a lot more. I get scared when I’m alone. I feel like somebody is watching me or following me.”
During her testimony, she described the initial series of events that led her family to call the Cathedral City Police Department about 2 1/2 years ago to report what allegedly transpired more than a decade before.
The woman testified that on Oct. 16, 2018, Williams randomly showed up at a home she shared with her boyfriend and began banging on the door while yelling: “I know you are in there, open the door!” She alleged he then left a note, which said in part: “Take care. I will always love you. It’s been a pleasure watching you grow up.”
Her boyfriend called her mother, which is when she told her mother about the alleged abuse for the first time. She testified that she kept it a secret all those years out of fear. The mother then asked the younger sister — who was 15 years old at the time — whether she had similar experiences and the girl said she did, according to court papers.
Prosecutors filed charges in January 2019, and Williams was soon arrested.
The older sister also told law enforcement that she witnessed Williams molest her sister at one point, court papers allege.
Williams, who is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, has no documented felony convictions in Riverside County.
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