LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A former USC professor, accused of taking trips to the Philippines to have sex with underage boys he met online, pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges.
Walter Lee Williams, 64, was ordered detained pending trial after the judge, US Magistrate Judge Carla Woehrle, referred to him as a potential flight risk and a possible danger to the community.
Williams was extradited to Los Angeles Wednesday night after being arrested Tuesday in Playa del Carmen, Mexico one day after the FBI placed him on their Most Wanted List.
The former professor — a onetime resident of Palm Springs — faces charges of sexual exploitation of children, travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, and criminal forfeiture, according to the FBI.
“A citizen saw his photograph in local media in Mexico, recognized him, contacted Mexican law enforcement authorities, and they ultimately got with the FBI and coordinated the arrest,” Bill Lewis of the FBI said.
Williams was found sipping coffee, in a park near Cancun, at the time of his arrest, according to KCAL9’s Dave Lopez.
“The world is a small place today,” said LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore.
Officials allege Williams used his academic research as a guise, reportedly securing research funds to travel to the Philippines, Indonesia, Polynesia and Thailand, where he is accused of engaging in sex acts with underage boys.
The FBI has said it has identified as many as 10 alleged victims, ranging in age from 9 to 17 years old all of them living in third world countries.
Williams taught anthropology, history and gender studies at USC until 2011, according to a FBI spokeswoman.
The FBI also announced a second arrest in the case Thursday. Richard Arlington, described by authorities as a Williams “associate,” was arrested near Palm Springs on May 14th and charged with possession of child pornography.