Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sex offender convicted of solicitation

A registered sex offender was convicted Wednesday of soliciting two Waubonsie Valley High School girls on Aurora's far east side.

Lanny E. Williams, 41, denied making sexually explicit comments in March to the 16-year-old girls, both of whom said he approached them separately as they walked to their bus stops.
The teens testified he also trailed them in his van after school as they walked through the Chesapeake Landing apartment complex, where he also lived.

After a two-day trial, DuPage Circuit Judge Robert Anderson ruled the girls' testimony was more credible, finding Williams guilty of indecent solicitation of a child. Williams will be sentenced Feb. 11. He faces up to 10 years in prison. Earlier, he was sentenced to three years in prison for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl June 12, 2003, inside his Carol Stream apartment.

The girl, now 18, testified Wednesday that Williams gave her alcohol and marijuana before raping her. She said Williams apologized afterward, offering her $200 for her silence but she refused.

After serving his time, Williams was ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years. He was barred from inappropriate contact with children. Williams testified he recalls talking to one of the Waubonsie Valley girls in his complex, but he told the judge he stopped the conversation after learning she was younger than 17.

"The only way I knew her age was when she told me, and that was the end of the conversation," he said. "That's the God's honest truth." Both girls testified Tuesday he made sexually explicit comments about their bodies after initiating conversation with them in March 2007 in separate incidents while they walked to their bus stop.

They encountered Williams again, the girls said, after school as he followed in his van and asked them to come closer. They made it home safely and told their parents, who alerted police.
Williams was arrested March 9, the same day as the second girl's complaint. He faced misdemeanor disorderly conduct, but prosecutors later upgraded it to felony solicitation after reviewing the case.

His attorney, Elizabeth Reed, a senior assistant public defender, said the comments the girls testified to did not rise to a felony. She argued the original misdemeanor was appropriate.
But prosecutors Vincenza LaMonica and Joseph Ruggiero noted the similarities in how the girls described Williams leering at their bodies and his sexually graphic vocabulary. He had to know they were underage, the prosecution argued, because he lived within a half block of their school bus stop. The girls also said they told him their ages, 15 and 16. "He's hitting on girls who he knows are underage," Ruggiero said. "They are children. He's lying because he knows what he did was a crime."

Williams also was convicted of a 1989 robbery, according to court records. He is being held in the DuPage County jail on a $200,000 bond.

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