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Ex-USC teacher on FBI Most Wanted list for alleged child sex crimes

Crime, Law and JusticeFBISexual MisconductJustice System

A former USC professor was named Monday to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted fugitives list after he was indicted for sex crimes against children abroad, FBI officials said.

Walter Lee Williams became the 500th person to make the FBI's top list, officials said. Federal authorities believe the 64-year-old fled the United States in 2011 after agents questioned him, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

Williams has been charged with sexual exploitation of children, travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, and faces criminal forfeiture. Authorities have identified at least 10 alleged victims.

They are between the ages of 14 and 17, and many live in third-world countries, FBI Special Agent Jeff Yesensky said in a video released by authorities.

“Because of his status he has the means and access to children, and that’s what makes him dangerous,” Yesensky said. “He preys on the most vulnerable children."

A four-count federal indictment unsealed April 30 listed alleged crimes involving at least two boys.

Between January and February 2011, Williams allegedly persuaded a 14-year-old boy to engage in "sexually explicit conduct" outside the United States, the indictment stated. He created images of that conduct, the indictment said, and brought them back to Los Angeles County.

The indictment included allegations of illicit sexual conduct with another boy during the same period.

Williams, who previously lived in Palm Springs, has an "extensive history of travel" throughout Southeast Asia, specifically the Philippines, according to a statement from the FBI. He may also travel to Mexico and Peru.

According to a website describing Williams' work, he taught classes on gender and sexuality and American Indian studies at USC. The website said he also worked with gay and lesbian groups and wrote several books. 

"His other main research focus is on sexuality in the Southeast Asia/Pacific region, and he has lived in Indonesia, Polynesia, and Thailand," the website said.

Williams was also affiliated with a group known as Buddhist Universal Association based in Los Angeles, the FBI said.

Williams was described as 5 feet 9 and 180 pounds, with grayish-brown hair and brown eyes. The FBI has offered a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to his arrest.

Some of the most well-known fugitives have landed on the 63-year-old FBI list, including Ted Bundy and Osama bin Laden. Of the 500 people named to the list, 469 have been apprehended or located, the FBI said. 

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richard.winton@latimes.com

kate.mather@latimes.com

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