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Former corrections officer who fled to Hawaii sentenced for forcible sex abuse

Posted at 6:27 PM, Apr 23, 2018

WEST JORDAN, Utah - A former corrections officer who fled to Hawaii for ten years to avoid forcible sex abuse charges learned his fate Monday.

According to a probable cause statement, William Lawrence, the former corrections officer, handcuffed the victim to his bed in his apartment on Redwood Road in West Jordan in 2006.

Prosecutors said he showed her his badge and told her to provide him with sexual services or he'd take her downtown to the Salt Lake County Jail and call the Division of Child and Family Services.

However, before he was sentenced for that crime, Lawrence fled to Hawaii with his daughter and former partner. He lived under the name John Phillips, started a small business, and stayed out of trouble. For that reason, his attorney, Adam Elmore, asked the judge for leniency.

"Obviously we’re disappointed. We felt like this was a difficult case. He’s clearly done really well over the last ten years and he obviously broke the law and there are consequences for that," said Elmore.

Elmore also said Lawrence's attorney back in 2006, who is no longer working as a lawyer, gave his client false information saying he'd definitely be serving five years in prison. Since Lawrence had worked at the prison, he feared for his life and that's the reason he fled.

In court Monday, Lawrence told the judge, "I've regretted my actions every day for nearly 12 years. I feel terrible for how I've hurt her."

However, the victim told the judge, "I don't think he's sorry. I don't think he cares. I think he's sorry he got caught."

The judge seemed to agree, saying Lawrence's decision to flee resulted in a double victimization because the victim spent the last ten years afraid while he lived under a new name in Hawaii.

We also learned exactly how Lawrence was caught in Hawaii. Apparently, police were investigating a robbery at his girlfriend's home and while they were dusting for fingerprints, his came up as did the warrant for his arrest.

Lawrence was sentenced to up to five years in prison.