Baton Rouge Police: A DNA match leads to an arrest in a 20-year-old rape case _lowres

Jerry J. Williams

A 59-year-old man is in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a count of second-degree rape after DNA from an unrelated arrest in December matched a Baton Rouge teenage girl’s rape kit taken two decades ago, leading detectives to re-examine the case.

Jerry J. Williams, 5955 Robertson Ave., was questioned by detectives in February 1996, about two weeks after a 17-year-old girl arrived at a hospital and told doctors and detectives she’d been raped by a man at his Baton Rouge home, according to a Baton Rouge police report.

At the time, though, Williams told detectives a different version of what happened inside his home, claiming the woman initiated a sexual encounter but that the two never actually had sex, according to the report.

After interviewing Williams, detectives couldn’t get back in touch with the victim to go over the discrepancies, said Sgt. Don Coppola, a Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman.

So the case sat largely dormant for 20 years until Williams wound up being swabbed for DNA at Parish Prison in December after Baton Rouge police arrested him on a domestic abuse battery count.

Once State Police Crime Lab analysts entered Williams’ DNA profile into a computerized database, they got a match to DNA collected during the teenage victim’s sexual assault exam in 1996.

At the time, the victim told investigators she was walking on St. Rose Avenue after leaving a group home on Government Street about 6 p.m. on Feb. 9, 1996, when she saw five men at a house and asked for a ride to Denham Springs, the police report says.

One of the men, Williams, said he needed to go to Denham Springs to pick up his son later that evening and would give her a ride, according to the report.

Williams, who was then 39 years old, drove her in his brown station wagon to a fast-food restaurant on Plank Road because the girl was hungry, then took her to his house off North Foster Drive, the report says.

After the two ate, the girl laid down on the couch to watch TV. The teen told police Williams got on top of her, and when she tried to push him off, Williams said to her, “I can’t believe this. I am nice. You should give me something in return,” according to the report.

She told police Williams forced her to perform oral sex and then raped her, and afterward, he drove her to Denham Springs and dropped her off at a bank on Range Avenue.

The victim ran to a relative’s house and was taken to a hospital.

When detectives questioned Williams in 1996, 15 days after his encounter with the girl, he claimed the victim had taken off her pants at his house while he was in another room using the telephone, the report says.

Williams told investigators he had limited sexual contact with the girl because he had no protection with him, the report says.

Coppola said detectives attempted to speak with the victim again, just over two weeks after she filed the initial report, but weren’t able to get in contact with her.

Twenty years later, on Jan. 14, State Police alerted Baton Rouge police that Williams’ DNA profile matched semen in the victim’s rape kit, prompting investigators to get in touch with the woman.

Baton Rouge detectives located her in a neighboring parish and met with her, the police report says.

The woman, who became “very emotional” as she recounted the events, confirmed she’d filed the report in 1996, according to the report, and told detectives she didn’t know Williams before the day he raped her.

On Friday, police obtained an arrest warrant for Williams, who was booked into Parish Prison the following day.

Williams’ bail is $80,000.