An ex-Fremont Police Department officer was sentenced to 30 months in prison after being found guilty on Wednesday of sexually abusing a minor.
“She had her innocence, which she had a right to have, taken by you,” Judge Mark Johnson said.
Austin R. Williams, 35, stayed silent throughout his sentencing at the Dodge County Courthouse. He was found guilty of third-degree sexual assault of a child on Sept. 9 after six days of trial and was also charged with three counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child but was found not guilty.
As part of his sentence, Williams was also ordered to register as a sex offender for 25 years and undergo 18 months of post-release supervision.
On Aug. 10, 2018, the victim told the Family Advocacy Network that he had abused her from ages 11 to 14, citing an incident in March 2017 in which he engaged her in sexual contact while drunk.
When interviewed by the Nebraska State Patrol four weeks later, Williams said he didn’t remember the incident and said it was “possible, but not probable” that it happened.
Williams, who began working for FPD in July 2013 and was promoted to sergeant in June 2018, was placed on administrative leave shortly after the interview, according to Fremont Police Chief Jeff Elliot.
Prior to Williams’ sentencing, the child testified by reading a written statement, which she said was representative of her strength.
“You do not get to sleep well knowing that you broke me or control my fear,” she said.
The child also said Williams’ actions had not silenced her and she would “continue to speak the truth” and help others in similar situations.
“I have a fire and a desire due to the experiences that you put me through,” she said. “...You didn’t break me, and you never will.”
Prosecutor John Kohl said Williams’ actions with FPD or the National Guard should not impact his sentencing.
“Good character cannot attach itself to a sexual predator, and that’s what he is,” he said.
Kohl also said Williams would not admit guilt or show remorse for his actions and didn’t believe probation would be effective.
“Upstanding guys take accountability for their actions,” he said.
Williams’ attorney, James Scarff, apologized to Johnson and Williams for “failing” him, saying his client refused two plea deals after telling him he didn’t commit the crime.
“He maintains his innocence, and I maintain it with him,” he said.
Scarff said Williams has no prior criminal history and had placed low in scoring for future risks.
“In the over 150 sentences and PSIs I’ve done over the last 15 years, you can’t find a better candidate for probation,” he said.
However, Johnson said Williams had given long-lasting emotional scars to the child and was aware of the harm he caused, as he was a psychology graduate.
As to Williams’ criminal record, Johnson said the incidents were over a period of time, showing that he had a history of reoffence.
“This was a continuum of acts,” he said.
Johnson denied motions for bond and a future date for Williams to submit to his sentence. Williams was given credit for five days previously served to his prison sentence and must serve a minimum of 15 months.