Despite the photo (more below), the real story here is not the freakish appearance of Donny Ray Williams, who plead guilty to sexually assaulting two women in 2010, but the fact that he is not going to jail for his crimes.
In 2010, one of Williams’ victims (name withheld) arrived in Washington as a student intern. She believed Williams, then staff director for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee, could help her find a job with Congress. Instead, Williams drugged and assaulted her.
“He gave me a random dose of drugs and risked my life,” the woman wrote in a letter read during the court hearing last week. “After the assault, I moved away, and he continued to harass me and threatened me to drop the charges. This crime has caused me fear, pain and a financial burden.” In the letter, the woman asked that Williams, who pleaded guilty to assaulting her and another woman and threatening a third person, be given “some jail time.” The other two people were not present in court.
But as part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to ask the judge to suspend a 4 1/2-year prison term, meaning Williams will remain free as long as he stays out of trouble. Though the man before them had committed serious offenses, a prosecutor said, he had also suffered as a victim of an unrelated crime.
About a year after his arrest on the sex-assault charges, Williams was severely disfigured and badly injured after acid was thrown on his face.
During the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Marcus-Kurn said Williams used his position to prey on his victims. “It was done with foresight, intentionally and deliberately,” Marcus-Kurn said. “The impact on these women is life-changing.”
But the prosecutor said the defendant’s life also was dramatically changed when he became a victim. She noted that Williams has had more than 20 surgeries, his vision is impaired and he faces additional “life-threatening” surgeries.
Judge Robert E. Morin said in court that he reluctantly agreed to suspend the prison term, noting he ultimately concluded the government’s reasoning was “practical and reasonable.”
“He was a victim of an independent crime and has serious medical issues,” Morin said. In addition to the suspended term, he sentenced Williams to five years of supervised probation and ordered him to register as a sex offender for 10 years and undergo counseling.
In 2013, Williams was walking down a Washington street when a man walked up and asked, “Hey, how are you man?” Williams, not recognizing the man, said “hey.” The man then threw liquid in Williams’s face, and it ran down his body. Williams said he initially thought it was coffee. But then he felt pain as if his body were on fire. “I thought I was going to die,” he said in an interview earlier this year. He suffered second- and third-degree burns and spent nearly two months in the hospital. He is blind in one eye, and his vision in the other is greatly diminished. Williams said he thinks his attacker was the jealous ex-boyfriend of a woman he was dating.
Now, unemployed and living off his savings and help from his parents, he has amassed more than one million in medical bills. The political life he has aspired to live and has worked in since college is over.
That thing on his head? It’s a surgically implanted rod to stretch his acid-ravaged skin.
Image via Washington Post