Fort Worth man accused of fourth assault

FORT WORTH -- For Jeffery Williams, history has a way of repeating itself.

For the fourth time in almost three decades, the 46-year-old frequently homeless man sits in a jail cell, accused of sexual assault.

When Williams was a teen in New Jersey, he pleaded guilty to a sexual assault charge and was sentenced to a youth correction facility.

As a homeless adult in Fort Worth, he was accused in two cases: one in 1994 and the other in 2007. Both times, Williams pleaded guilty to lesser charges as part of agreements with the state. In one case, a felony sexual assault charge was pleaded down to a misdemeanor assault charge.

The fourth time came last week when Williams was charged with sexual assault after a DNA database linked him to the November 2001 rape of a 25-year-old woman inside her Fort Worth apartment.

In an interview Friday at the Tarrant County Jail, Williams insisted that he has never raped a woman. He attributed the repeated charges to his drug addiction and the people associated with it.

"When you deal with drug addicts and you're a drug addict, you're going to get burned, and unfortunately, it happened to me four times," Williams said. "It's called getting even, and it worked.

"I didn't rape nobody. I did not force nobody to have sex with me," he said.

Sgt. Cheryl Johnson, supervisor of the Fort Worth sex crimes unit, described Williams as a "predator."

"Predators prey on the weak and available," Johnson said. "Now that the predator is caught, he is trying to find any way out."

The first arrest

Williams was 17 in June 1981 when he was first arrested for sexual assault after he broke into a house in Englewood, N.J., and sexually assaulted a woman.

According to Bergen County court records, Williams pleaded guilty in March 1982 to a sexual assault charge, and in exchange, prosecutors dropped additional charges of aggravated sexual assault and burglary. He was sentenced to a youth correctional center for a maximum of seven years.

On Friday, Williams said that he had used drugs and had consensual sex with the woman and that she falsely accused him of rape after her roommate walked in on them. He said he accepted the plea agreement "because I was facing a large amount of time" in prison.

Williams said he served three years in the youth correctional facility before being released on parole. He later failed a drug test and was sent to an adult prison in February 1987, serving another year and a half.

The documents in the New Jersey case file noted that Williams had a poor family background and limited intellectual ability and noted the "heinous and violent nature" of his crime. If not severely dealt with, the note stated, there was a likelihood that Williams "might commit other offenses of this nature."

A move to Tarrant County

After his parents' death, he followed a friend to Tarrant County in search of a job, Williams said.

He found more trouble.

In 1991, he was sentenced to 93 days in jail on a misdemeanor conviction of indecent exposure after he exposed himself and masturbated outside a south Fort Worth apartment complex.

Williams said he had accidentally locked himself out of his residence and denies that he was masturbating.

In February 1994, a 30-year-old woman reported to police that two men had grabbed her as she walked on East Lancaster Avenue, pulled her to a brushy area and raped her. She said she had seen one of the men at the Union Gospel Mission during the previous two days.

Williams was arrested two months later for felony sexual assault after the woman spotted him riding on the bus with her and notified police.

In October 1995, Williams pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanor assault with bodily injury and was sentenced to one year in jail. Williams said in the interview Friday that he and the second man had been doing drugs with and had consensual sex with the woman. He said she made up a story about rape after becoming upset that the men would not give her more drugs.

"It was all nothing but a dope party deal gone bad," Williams said. "That's all it was. Didn't nobody force nobody to have no sex."

He said the state offered him the deal after "they seen what this case was."

State District Judge Elizabeth Berry, who was the prosecutor in the case, said she could not recall the case or the circumstances that might have led to the felony case being pleaded down to a misdemeanor. Tiffany Burks, now a prosecutor in the Tarrant County district attorney's office, said the office is searching for the case file.

Paul Conner, Williams' defense attorney in the case, also could offer no explanation for the plea.

"I can only surmise that it must have been a very weak case on the part of the prosecutor," Conner said. "In some way, their case had to have been compromised as far as provability in order for them to have gone along with this.

"That's not to say that my client was not saying all along that he was not guilty of the offense, but I don't have a specific recollection."

Growing rap sheet

Between 2005 and 2009, Williams picked up additional misdemeanor convictions for theft, assault with bodily injury of a family member and theft of property.

In July 2007, he was again indicted on a sexual assault charge. This time, he knew the accuser well: She was the mother of his child.

In June, the woman flagged down a police officer, stating that Williams, with whom she was no longer involved, was trying to kill her. She told police that Williams, while holding a rock, confronted her as she walked on East Lancaster Avenue and asked whether she was ready to die. She told police that he choked and hit her before sexually assaulting her.

Williams admits that he struck the woman, a convicted prostitute, saying he got angry when he saw her engaged in a sexual act with another man under a bridge. He said he and the woman were still together at the time.

"There wasn't no rape involved," Williams said. "I did assault her, but there was no rape."

In January 2008, Williams pleaded guilty to assault with bodily injury to a family member, a third-degree felony because of his prior conviction for family violence in 2007. He was sentenced to two years in prison.

The prosecutor who handled that case is no longer on the district attorney's staff. Burks said the case file indicated that "it was pled down to assault bodily injury because we had issues with the victim's account of what happened as well as locating the victim when it came down to trial."

Burks credited what she called "creative plea negotiations by our office" for Williams being convicted of a felony in the case.

"That required that his DNA be collected for the CODIS database so that when his DNA was collected and came back as a match ... we were able to file a sexual assault case on him from 2001 that, without that felony conviction, may have never been solved," she said.

A DNA match

Johnson said the CODIS link came last year, when police were informed that Williams' DNA matched biological evidence from an unsolved rape in 2001.

Johnson said the sexual assault occurred Nov. 5, 2001, when a 25-year-old woman opened her apartment door to a man whom she had mistaken for a relative. The woman told investigators that the man requested sex, and when she refused, forced her to a bedroom where he sexually assaulted her.

Johnson said the case was reassigned to Detective Tom O'Brien, who obtained a warrant for Williams on Dec. 30 after additional testing confirmed the DNA match. Williams was arrested Feb. 25 on that warrant after being found by patrol officers at a west Fort Worth apartment complex.

Williams denies the 2001 rape. He said investigators showed him a picture of the woman and although she looked familiar, he said, he does not remember her.

Told of Williams' denial, Johnson said, "Unfortunately for him, the interview he provided you completely contradicts the statement he provided to Detective O'Brien."

Williams, homeless off and on for 10 years, said the latest sexual charge came just as his life was "getting great." He was released from prison in June and, a couple of months ago, moved into an apartment with the help of a city program.

"This is making me look like a monster," Williams said, breaking into tears. "I just had rotten luck in the world of drugs. ... I just don't want people to think I'm some type of monster."

DEANNA BOYD, 817-390-7655