A judge had a hard time Thursday imagining what was going through the minds of the Omaha parents who had to rescue their 5-year-old daughter from a repeat sex offender, let alone what was going through the mind of the girl.
Or what was going through the mind of the 19-year-old girl who had to outrace Robert J. Williams on her bike. Or the 15-year-old girl who had to resist being pulled from a convenience store. Or the one girl who didn’t escape Williams’ torment — a girl who is younger than 12 who endured sexual assaults for three years.
“I can’t even imagine,” said Douglas County District Judge Gary Randall.
Randall had a much less difficult time deciding Williams’ sentence for the one-day spree in May 2019 in which the meth-addled Williams tried to snare three girls and for the three-year ordeal during which he abused a child known to him.
The judge gave Williams, 35, the maximum sentence: 145 to 190 years in prison. Barring a successful appeal, Williams will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Randall noted that Williams, who had pleaded no contest to five charges, told Omaha police that he was “on the hunt” for children to sexually assault. A second defendant, Antonio D. Johnson, 32, is undergoing psychiatric evaluations to see if he is competent to stand trial.
“Self-described, you said you were on the hunt,” Randall said. “You’ve clearly identified yourself as a predator, a risk to society.
“My job is to protect society from you.”
Sign up for World-Herald news alerts
Be the first to know when news happens. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox.
Prosecutor Molly Keane, a deputy Douglas County attorney, said the case was such a crockpot of the most cliché, worst-case crimes against children that she had to repeatedly ask Omaha police detectives: Is this true?
Williams had committed prior offenses, as is the case of many of society’s worst sex offenders. At the time of the May 2019 spree, he was on supervised release after serving a prison stint from a previous child pornography case.
There was a car lurking, then men lurching for a 19-year-old girl on a bike. She was able to pedal away from them.
There was a 15-year-old girl in a convenience store, and two men who tried to lure her outside. She refused; they got spooked and ran away.
There was a girl under 12 — a child known to Williams. He took advantage of his role in her life to abuse her for three years.
And there was every parent’s worst nightmare: a kidnapping attempt. Williams and his companion were driving near 69th and Blondo Streets when they spotted a 5-year-old girl playing in her yard. Her parents had just gone inside to get her younger sister ready to come out and play when they heard screaming.
The 5-year-old’s father rushed out of the house to find Williams carrying his daughter to a waiting car. The father rushed after them. Williams fell and dropped the girl. The dad rescued her.
In a letter to the judge Thursday, the girl’s parents described how the girl isn’t the same carefree child she used to be. She has nightmares and a general fear of men. The episode has her in therapy and has even affected her 3-year-old sister. And it has shattered the parents’ peace of mind.
“Who knows what would have happened to her had this 5-year-old girl not had the wherewithal to scream,” Keane said. “It is a scary, scary, scary fact pattern.”
Williams’ attorney, assistant public defender Rob Marcuzzo, said Williams had a horrendous childhood — bouncing from foster home to foster home. On that day in May 2019, Williams was strung out on meth as he self-medicated his mental illnesses, which include bipolar disorder.
Marcuzzo said he had doctors evaluate Williams for a possible insanity defense. Doctors determined, however, that Williams wasn’t legally insane at the time of the crimes.
Keane said a presentence report placed Williams at a higher risk than any she has seen in more than a decade of prosecuting sex offenders.
“This is a case that you hear about almost as an urban legend and don’t believe it could have happened,” she said. “It really does embody every parent’s worst nightmare.”