A former Fremont Police Department officer accused of sexually assaulting a child has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Austin R. Williams, 33, appeared in Dodge County District Court on Thursday morning and pleaded not guilty to five counts related to the alleged sexual abuse of a child, including two charges of first degree sexual assault of a child, a class IB felony punishable by 20 years to life in prison.
Due to Williams’ position as a city employee, the case has been handed over to a special prosecutor, Omaha attorney John Kohl.
Additionally, both Dodge County District Court Judge Geoffrey Hall and County Court Judge Kenneth Vampola have recused themselves from the case. District Court Judge Mark Johnson out of Madison County has been appointed to preside.
In court on Thursday, Williams also waived his right to a speedy trial, and Johnson set a telephonic status hearing for Aug. 26 at 9 a.m.
In February, after the charges were made public, Williams’ attorney James Scarff vowed to “vigorously defend this case,” and argued that the evidence, collected by the Nebraska State Patrol, was severely lacking.
“We have cooperated throughout this whole investigation,” he said. “We’ve never run from it.”
Williams is accused of inappropriately touching a minor girl repeatedly, beginning when she was 11 years old.
The girl was interviewed by investigators on Aug. 10, 2018, and in an affidavit filed by the Nebraska State Patrol, she reported the alleged abuse began “approximately 1.5 to two years prior to the date of the interview.” She reported the most recent incident occurring in May or June 2018.
Williams worked for the Fremont Police Department beginning in July 2013 and was promoted to Sergeant in June 2018. He was placed on administrative leave in August, when the State Patrol began its investigation. His employment was terminated the same week the charges were filed in February.