A former DeKalb County officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to molesting a 13-year-old girl. And a superior court judge sentenced him to five years in prison.
Manuel Williams pleaded guilty to three counts of child molestation, according to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office.
“[Williams] took an oath to protect and serve the people of DeKalb County. Instead, he molested a vulnerable young child,” District Attorney Robert James said. “It’s always disheartening to see sworn officers violate the public’s trust.”
Williams, 49, resigned from the police department in October shortly after his arrest for the crime, which occurred in 2012, prosecutors said. He is scheduled to turn himself into custody on Friday, the district attorney’s spokesman Erik Burton said.
Upon his release, Williams will be placed on five years’ probation and he must register as a sex offender as well as undergo sex offender treatment, Burton said. Additionally, he will not be able to have any unsupervised contact with minors.
“Hopefully this plea will provide the victim and the family some level of closure in this horrific situation,” James said.
Williams inappropriately touched a 13-year-old girl who was visiting his daughter at his home in September 2012, DeKalb County police chief Cedric Alexander said previously. He also kissed the girl on the neck, prosecutors said. But the girl did not report the incident to her father until almost a year later.
“The father of the 13-year-old victim reported it to police on Oct. 12,” Alexander said. “It’s very disheartening for all of us here at DeKalb Police.”
Williams had been with the department for 18 years and most recently worked out of the south precinct, police said.
“Records indicate that he’s always carried himself as a stellar officer,” Alexander said, according to the AJC. “This comes as a surprise for us. But we’re going to do what is right by the public and by the police department.”
An arrest warrant obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that the victim reported the alleged incident in a letter to her mother.
The warrant also said Williams confessed. But Williams, through his attorney Gerald Griggs, denied the accusations and police assertions that he made a confession, the paper reported. He also questioned the girl’s story, noting the time lapse in her reporting the crime.
As for the plea, Griggs said his client simply wanted to stay out of court.
“He wanted to avoid having to put his family through a painful trial,” Griggs told the paper. “So he accepted responsibility.”