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Ex-officer on run for 10 years may ask to withdraw sex abuse plea
February 13, 2018

WEST JORDAN — A former Utah Department of Corrections officer who was scheduled to be sentenced Monday after spending 10 years on the run may now seek to change his plea instead.

William Lawrence, 41 pleaded guilty to forcible sex abuse, a third-degree felony, on Dec. 6, 2007. In exchange for his guilty plea, a charge of forcible sodomy was dismissed.

Lawrence, while still employed with the corrections department, handcuffed a woman in his apartment near 9300 S. Redwood Road and demanded sex acts, according to charging documents. The woman told police that Lawrence showed her a badge and "informed (her) that she was to provide him with sexual services or he would take her downtown to the Salt Lake County Jail and call the Division of Child and Family Services."

But when it came time for sentencing on April 7, 2008, Lawrence didn't show up for court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

In November, after nearly 10 years on the run while living under a fake identity, Lawrence was arrested by U.S. marshals at a McDonald's restaurant in Hawaii.

On Monday, Lawrence appeared in 3rd District Court in West Jordan for his long-delayed sentencing.

But his attorney, Adam Elmore, contended to Judge Heather Brereton that the presentence report is now a decade old and outdated. He said the sentencing matrix for his client's crime is now different and the old presentence report did not include mitigating factors.

With no objections from the state, Brereton agreed and ordered Adult Probation and Parole to prepare a new presentence report. Sentencing was rescheduled for April 12.

But Noble also indicated that Lawrence intends to soon file a motion withdrawing his guilty plea.

Both prosecutors and the judge said Monday they do not know how much of the original case files or physical evidence is still around or how much may be in storage somewhere. The judge mentioned she had recently received a letter from the victim in the case, so the key witness is still available.