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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Amelia Neath

Business partner of a serial rape suspect paid cops $2k a week to look the other way, suit says

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation/Blount County

The business partner of a serial rape suspect allegedly sent $2,000 a week in payments to Tennessee police officers for them to turn a blind eye to his targeting of women, a bombshell lawsuit says.

The latest allegations come in a class action lawsuit connected to the case of Tennessee businessman Sean Williams, 52, who has been accused of owning photos and videos of 52 women being sexually assaulted by Mr Williams. Some of the alleged victims also appeared to be named on a list labeled as “raped” found in his apartment during a September 2020 search warrant.

Johnson City is currently facing two lawsuits alleging police ignored Mr Williams, despite multiple victims coming forward to law enforcement.

The business partner, a woman identified as “Female 4” in court documents obtained by The Tennessean, is being accused of laundering funds that were used to pay officers $2,000 a week in cash.

The suit reportedly claims a group of officers conspired to extort Mr Williams’ concrete and glass contracting business in exchange for looking away from his  “narcotics and sex-trafficking ventures,” the outlet reports.

Bank records allegedly showed that the business partner had withdrawn nearly $30,000 in cash from Mr Williams’ business account over two weeks in June 2022, the lawsuit reportedly describes.

At the time of the withdrawals, Mr Williams had been evading custody for over a year after he failed to be arrested on an illegal ammunition charge.

Sean Williams, 52, is currently facing multiple charges against him including production of child sexual abuse material and aggravated sexual battery (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation/Blount County)

The court documents claim that officers were monitoring Mr Williams’ efforts to liquidate his assets while he was on the run, and provided Female 4 with police protection, the outlet says.

The business partner stated she had had a “personal relationship” with Mr Williams between 2010 and 2017, but had “infrequent communications” with him since, according to Tennessee Lookout.

Last year, a class action lawsuit was filed against Johnson City, with multiple women claiming that the officers failed to investigate their claims against Mr Williams, who they allege had drugged and assaulted them.

However, in the court documents by the outlet, Johnson City has denied the police corruption and other allegations against them.

“There has been no evidence to support allegations of corruption by the Johnson City Police Department, and we welcome any investigation that could dispel such claims,” the  City said in a statement to The Tennessean, although denied to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit.

In recent filings of the lawsuit, the documents allude to a “federal public corruption investigation of the Johnson City Police Department,” with attorneys for the women saying their clients have turned over 520 emails and attachments to investigators.

The city is facing an additional lawsuit from former federal prosecutor Kateri Dahl, filed in 2022, who has alleged that the police department ignored her frequent attempts to get them to investigate Mr Williams, despite having substantial evidence.

When Ms Dahl secured a federal indictment and arrest warrant on a minor federal ammunition charge in 2021, the lawsuit claims that local police botched the arrest, allowing the suspect to flee.

Ms Dahl’s contract was later terminated by the then-police chief, citing failures to indict in other cases.

Johnson City, Tennessee (Johnson City Convention & Visitor Bureau)

Johnson City said in a statement regarding Ms Dahl’s lawsuit last year that the non-renewal of her contract “was justified and based on failure to perform her contractual obligations.” The city also added that a comment on how the police department handled the allegations against Mr Williams, saying it took five months to get an indictment after the department requested one in 2020.

A spokesperson for Johnson City told The Independent they do not have any further comment at this time.

Mr Williams, who is currently in custody on multiple state and federal charges relating to possessing child sexual abuse material, child sexual assault and aggravated sexual battery, escaped custody in October.

The suspect smashed the back window of a transport van and got out while guards were taking him to a court appearance; however, he was captured a month later in Florida after becoming one of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s “Most Wanted.”

The manhunt unfolded in 2023 after police in North Carolina said they found evidence of Mr Williams apparently documenting dozens of sexual assaults.

His subsequent trial on the escape trial is slated for August, the same month as his original trial.

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