Sex of­fender of­fi­ci­ated at girls games

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY DEANNA BOYD [email protected]­gram.com

Gran­bury and Glen Rose school of­fi­cials say they’ll now re­quire all prospec­tive ath­letic of­fi­cials to sub­mit to a back­ground check af­ter learn­ing that a reg­is­tered sex of­fender re­cently ac­cused of ab­duc­tion and rape of a 13-yearold girl had been of­fi­ci­at­ing girls bas­ket­ball games for the dis­tricts.

James Earl Wil­liams, 52, was ar­rested in late Septem­ber af­ter Fort Worth po­lice say they dis­cov­ered through his Face­book page that he had been of­fi­ci­at­ing games for both the Gran­bury and Glen Rose school dis­tricts — em­ploy­ment that he had not re­ported to po­lice.

Wil­liams had been re­quired to reg­is­ter as a sex of­fender af­ter be­ing con­victed and sen­tenced in 2016 to two years in state jail for the at­tempted kid­nap­ping of 11-year-old Am­ber He­witt in Watauga. He also had a pre­vi­ous kid­nap­ping con­vic­tion out of Hawaii.

Wil­liams was still in the Tar­rant County Jail on Thurs­day when Fort Worth po­lice ac­cused him in the 2015 ab­duc­tion and rape of a 13-year-old girl in east Fort Worth. He’d been linked to the 2015 case by a DNA data­base, an af­fi­davit states.

Jeff Meador, a spokes­woman

with the Gran­bury school district, said Thurs­day in an email that Wil­liams was not a school district em­ployee “but rather was an ath­letic of­fi­cial con­tracted through a lo­cal of­fi­ci­at­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive.”

That rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Larry Pol­lard, said Thurs­day that he runs a lo­cal of­fi­ci­at­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion that as­signs ref­er­ees to work ju­nior high, fresh­man and JV bas­ket­ball games for school dis­tricts, in­clud­ing Gran­bury and Glen Rose.

“We pro­vide the of­fi­cials for those schools and there’s a lot of them that wouldn’t be able to have bas­ket­ball games if it wasn’t for us,” Pol­lard said.

Pol­l­lard ac­knowl­edged that he did not run back­ground checks on of­fi­cials he as­signed to games but said most are men and women that he’s known for years.

“When­ever I get in a bind ... some­times I had to go out­side to find a per­son to help us out. Some­where along the line James Earl Wil­liams’ name came up,” Pol­lard said.

Meador said Fort Worth po­lice had con­tacted the Gran­bury district sev­eral months ago to ask about Wil­liams’ work as a ref­eree but did not pro­vide specifics of their in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He said the district only learned of Wil­liams’ crim­i­nal his­tory, in­clud­ing that he was a reg­is­tered sex of­fender, af­ter be­ing con­tacted by the Star-Tele­gram on Thurs­day.

“In con­sul­ta­tion with le­gal coun­sel, we are in­creas­ing our own lo­cal pro­ce­dures to re­quire that all prospec­tive ath­letic of­fi­cials sub­mit to a back­ground check through the same sys­tem used for booster club mem­bers, PTO mem­bers, pro­gram men­tors, and oth­ers vol­un­teer­ing on our cam­puses,” Meador said in an email Thurs­day.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Wayne Rotan said the Glen Rose school district was not aware that some mem­bers of Pol­lard’s group were not UIL-reg­is­tered of­fi­cials and there­fore, not re­quired to un­dergo the same back­ground check re­quire­ments as UIL-reg­is­tered chap­ters. The district will now con­duct its own back­ground checks of of­fi­cials who come from groups not reg­is­tered with the UIL.

Pol­lard said while he did not run a back­ground check on Wil­liams, he did ask the man sev­eral ques­tions. He ac­knowl­edged that did not in­clude whether Wil­liams had been con­victed of a crime.

Pol­lard said Wil­liams had told him that he was a mem­ber of the Fort Worth Bas­ket­ball Of­fi­cials As­so­ci­a­tion.

“I asked guys in the Fort Worth chap­ter if they knew him, they said yes. That he was a mem­ber,” Pol­lard said. “I just ac­cepted that as fact.”

The Fort Worth Bas­ket­ball Of­fi­cials As­so­ci­a­tion, a chap­ter of the Texas High School Bas­ket­ball Of­fi­cials As­so­ci­a­tion, runs back­ground checks on all mem­bers, of­fi­cials say.

Will Smoth­er­man, pres­i­dent of the Fort Worth chap­ter, said Thurs­day night that there is no record that Wil­liams was a mem­ber of the Fort Worth chap­ter or a mem­ber of the Texas High School Bas­ket­ball Of­fi­cials As­so­ci­a­tion in records re­viewed dat­ing back 10 years.

Michael Fitch, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Texas As- so­ci­a­tion of Sports Of­fi­cials, said a re­view of records dat­ing back 20 years shows that Wil­liams was not a mem­ber there.

Pol­lard said he did not use Wil­liams reg­u­larly and stopped us­ing him al­to­gether af­ter get­ting a call from a Fort Worth in­ves­ti­ga­tor sev­eral months ago, ask­ing about Wil­liams’ em­ploy­ment and in­form­ing him that Wil­liams was a sex of­fender.

“I said, Whoa!,” Pol­lard said. “Once she told me that he was, he was dropped im­me­di­ately. I hadn’t spo­ken to him or any­thing since. I did work with the lady de­tec­tive, pro­vid­ing her with the names, the schools, the dates he did of­fi­ci­ate.”

Af­ter get­ting calls Thurs­day from both Gran­bury and Glen Rose school dis­tricts, Pol­lard said he is gath­er­ing pa­per­work from all of­fi­cials work­ing with his group so that back­ground checks can be run on each.

“If they don’t sign them, they won’t be work­ing any­more un­til they do,” he said.

James Earl Wil­liams

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