Sexual misconduct/Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct has issued two separate public reprimands against Corpus Christi State District Judge Guy Williams: one for inappropriately touching three women, including a fellow judge, during a judicial function, and another for improperly taking away children from two women during a child support hearing.
The discipline came after Williams, represented by counsel, appeared for a hearing before the commission earlier this month, and provided written responses, according to the documents, which note that he disputed some of the charges.
Williams, who didn't seek re-election in November, will be off the bench at year's end.
In the first case, three women complained to the commission that Williams, judge of the 148th District Court, touched them without consent during an Aug. 9, 2017, function honoring a municipal court judge in Corpus Christi.
Judge Guy Williams, South Padre Island, Texas/courtesy photo
Judge Sandra Watts of Corpus Christi’s 117th District Court complained that Williams touched her inappropriately while judges and elected officials were taking a group photo. Specifically, Watts stated that Williams pulled her toward him with his left arm and slid his hand down from her waist to her butt, pressing his hand firmly against her body as it moved. Watts told Williams to stop, “and he smiled and laughed and then reached down and literally grabbed and squeezed my butt,” according to the reprimand.
Watts stated that, soon after the photo was taken, Williams sent her a text message with the group picture including the words “nice body for a 70 year old.” Watts stated that Williams' conduct left her “stunned,” but Williams stated, “we are close to the same age so I figured it was a compliment,” according to the reprimand.
Nueces County District Clerk Anne Lorentzen also complained that Williams touched her inappropriately at the same event, recalling that he literally pulled another woman out of her seat so he could sit next to Lorentzen. Lorentzen stated that Williams then “ran his hand down my right side from underneath my breast, down my waist and around my bottom." Lorentzen added that she was shocked she “just looked at him … and he grinned back at me.” She later got up to get another drink just to get away from Williams, the reprimand noted.
Williams admitted sitting next to Lorentzen, but denied touching her. He saw Lorentzen days later and told her, “I heard she was one of my victims.” In retrospect, Williams told the commission, he regretted saying anything but added that Lorentzen should have come to him if “she felt offended,” according to the reprimand.
Nueces County District Clerk Chief Deputy Lilia Ann Gutierrez was the third woman who complained about Williams inappropriately touching her during the event. She recalled that while she was taking a “selfie” photo with a friend, Williams nudged her on her right arm and then rubbed his elbow on her left breast.
According to the reprimand, Gutierrez immediately put her right arm up to defend herself and told Williams, “What are you f------ doing, Stop it! And he just smiled.”
Later, Williams placed his hand on Gutierrez’ lower back and touched her buttocks, and she told him “Stop f------ touching me,” and he again smiled and turned his face the other way, the reprimand said.
Williams denied Gutierrez’ accusations and confirmed having one tequila drink at the event.
The commission concluded that Williams had violated numerous canons of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct. “Judge Williams’ conduct toward Judge Sandra Watts, Anne Lorentzen and Lilia Ann Gutierrez also cast public discredit upon the judiciary and the administration of justice.”
The commission issued a separate reprimand against Williams for the way he handled a family law hearing in which two women were seeking to enforce child support payments against the same father and a motion claiming the father had failed to complete anger management and a batterer’s intervention program. Both women were the primary caregivers of their children.
After speaking to the parties off the record in chambers, Williams returned to the bench and ordered the children to be removed from their mothers and given to their biological father. Williams, according to the reprimand, told the mothers that they “have incurred the wrath of this court and the extreme displeasure of this court by not following the court’s orders.” He also told them “If I find out there’s any more parental alienation between you two, then these orders will remain in effect and you will be paying child support,” the commission said.
At the time Williams issued the order, there was no pending motion requesting that the children be removed from their mothers, the reprimand said. Williams vacated his order the next day.
Williams later told the commission that he had the authority to remove the children sua sponte without a hearing under the Texas Family Code because he found the “present circumstances significantly impaired the child’s health or emotional development,” according to the reprimand. He also denied that he prohibited anyone from speaking during the hearing, commenting that “everyone had their chance to speak.”
The commission concluded that Williams had failed to be dignified and courteous to the mothers in making his rulings and statements, denied the mothers and their attorneys the right to be heard, and failed to follow the law when he issued orders affecting the women’s custodial rights in absence of a verified pleading in accordance with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
Williams did not return a call for comment.
Williams was suspended from the bench last year by the commission after he was indicted on two aggravated assault charges in connection with an alleged road rage incident. He was accused of attempting to run another vehicle off the road and pointing his gun at the occupants. Williams returned to the bench this year after a jury found him not guilty on one of those counts but could not resolve the second charge, forcing a mistrial.
Sexual misconduct/Credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com