A former USC professor once on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted fugitives list pleaded guilty Friday to flying to the Philippines and sexually assaulting underage boys he groomed online.
Walter Lee Williams, 65, admitted engaging in illegal sexual contact with minors in foreign places, entering the plea during a brief appearance before U.S. District Judge Phillip S. Gutierrez.
As part of a plea, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend that the onetime eminent professor of gender and sexuality studies serve no more than five years in a federal prison. He also would be subject to 10 years supervision upon release and must pay $25,000 in restitution to his seven victims. Williams will be sentenced Dec. 15.
Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Michel Moore said Williams' conduct came to light three years ago when a person concerned about the safety of children contacted authorities.
Federal prosecutors alleged that the author and Fulbright Award winner used those trips to sexually assault underage boys. Investigators believe he has at least 10 victims across Southeast Asia, aged 9 to 17.
While there, he also had sexual contact with three other 16-year-old boys, records show.
When he returned to Los Angeles International Airport on Feb. 11, 2011, he was "intercepted," and child pornography was found on him. The professor fled Los Angeles a week after being interviewed by the FBI.
An attorney for USC last year provided the FBI with materials the professor donated to the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives that contained "lascivious visual depictions of minors," according to the plea agreement. FBI agents also obtained similar images from Williams' former home.