District attorneys and family members packed a Santa Barbara courtroom Wednesday afternoon as Ronald “Chad” Williams was sentenced to three years in state prison for two counts of child molestation, for which he was convicted in December 2015. The crimes occurred at San Marcos Christian Camp in 2005, when Williams was director and his 11-year-old male victim was a camper.
Williams, 37, sat beside public defender K.C. Williamson through three statements from the victim — John Doe — and the victim’s parents. His father spoke of the “utter despair” Williams, once an honorary member of the family, inflicted 11 years ago when he sexually assaulted their son in a camp shower. “He came like a thief in the night and stole my son’s boyhood away from him.”
“From my heart to you, Chad, I forgive you as a man,” said Doe in an impromptu impact statement. A family friend read a letter written by Doe, which said, “That weekend Chad taught me everything I needed to know about shame, humiliation, hate, and pain.” The victim and his parents asked Judge Pauline Maxwell to impose the maximum sentence: 9 years in state prison.
“Do we really want to cut a break for someone who just did it once?” asked prosecutor District Attorney Von Nguyen, in reference to Maxwell’s point that Williams has a clean record and has been a productive, law-abiding citizen since the allegations.
The court heard three defense impact statements. Williams’s high school friend, Kristen Johnson, expressed “love and belief in Chad” on behalf of his friends and family in Hawaii and Canada. Williams’s wife of 6 years, Julie Williams, said, “Chad has worked with thousands of families and thousands of children…[there are] no allegations like this.” “I am begging you to help our family move on,” she said referencing the couples’ two young children.
Williams’s father-in-law, Don Calhoon, spoke of the punishment his daughter and grandchildren have and will endure by being deprived of their father, who “did not do what he was convicted of.” Johnson, Williams, and Calhoon urged the judge to grant probation in lieu of prison time.
Williamson referenced 23 letters of support that his client’s family and friends sent in since the case began in June 2014. Williamson called for a suspended sentence, in which his client would be on closely supervised probation. For the rest of Williams’s life he will wear “a scarlet letter,” because he must forever register as a child molester, said Williamson.
Ultimately, the sentence coincided with Maxwell’s tentative ruling: Three years in state prison for committing a lewd act with a child younger than 14. Williams will serve that sentence concurrent to one year for attempted sodomy with a child under 14. He must pay $7,542 in restitution.
“I think he’s deserving of the maximum sentence given the relationship he had with the victim and the violence of the act,” Nguyen said after the sentencing.