FBI names former USC professor to list of most wanted fugitives

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, 64, became the 500th person named to the list, officials said. He faces charges of sexual exploitation of children, traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.


Bureau officials said they had identified at least 10 alleged victims between the ages of 9 and 17. Many live in Third World countries, officials said, adding that Williams has traveled extensively or lived across Southeast Asia and Polynesia, including the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.

“Because of his status he has the means and access to children, and that’s what makes him dangerous,” FBI Special Agent Jeff Yesensky said in a video released by the agency. “He preys on the most vulnerable children.”

A four-count federal indictment filed April 30 outlines alleged crimes involving two 14-year-old boys authorities say Williams met online in 2010. He allegedly “engaged in sexual activity via Internet webcam sessions with these boys and expressed a desire to visit them in the Philippines to have sex,” the FBI said in a statement.

Williams went to the Philippines in January 2011, where he allegedly engaged in “sexually explicit conduct” with the boys, took photos of the encounters and brought the photos back to Los Angeles County, the indictment said. He fled Los Angeles after agents questioned him, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

Eimiller said investigators had not ruled out additional charges.

Williams taught anthropology, gender studies and history at USC, according to a university Web page that’s since been taken down. The author and Fulbright Award winner received several accolades for his work, including the USC General Education Outstanding Teacher Award in 2006. He was also recognized for his work with the gay and lesbian community.

According to another website describing Williams’ work, “his other main research focus is on sexuality in the Southeast Asia/Pacific region.”

Williams is described as 5 feet 9 inches tall and 180 pounds, with grayish-brown hair and brown eyes. He was affiliated with a Los Angeles-based group known as the Buddhist Universal Assn., the FBI said, and may travel to Mexico or Peru.

The FBI has offered a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to his arrest.

Of the 500 people named to the list over its 63 years, 469 have been apprehended or located, the FBI said.