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Sparta man accused of spiking drink fined on stalking charge

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A Sparta man accused of spiking a woman’s drink at a La Crosse restaurant was fined Wednesday after pleading no contest to a felony stalking charge.

William Williams will pay $1,158 as part of a deal in which prosecutors in two counties agreed to dismiss 10 other charges.

William Williams

William Williams

According to criminal complaints, Williams, 71, was dining at Piggy’s restaurant on July 7, 2016, when another customer saw him put something in his companion’s water glass while she was in the restroom. Investigators questioned him when he returned to the restaurant the following month, and Williams denied touching her glass, which had tested positive for the sedative Trazodone.

Later that night, Sparta police arrested Williams after he went to the woman’s home. They found loaded handguns, ammunition, knives, rope and handcuffs in his car.

The woman, described as a family friend, told police Williams made unwanted sexual passes and would frequently drive past her home.

In October, Monroe County authorities charged him with seven counts of stalking, as well as harassment and intimidation of a victim, for his actions that night and on subsequent dates in 2017 when the woman reported seeing Williams sitting in his truck at a Sparta convenience store every morning and afternoon as she drove to and from work.

Prosecutors said they agreed to the deal, under which they recommended no jail or probation, after consulting with the woman.

“The victim felt a felony conviction was important so the defendant can no longer carry guns,” said La Crosse County Assistant District Attorney Courtney Stritmatter. “That is what the main concern was.”

Williams entered an Alford plea in which he maintained his innocence but conceded that a jury would likely convict him based on the evidence. His attorney said he didn’t put anything in her drink, that the rope and handcuffs in his car were from his work as a reserve police officer, and that he had other reasons for being in the places the victim saw him.

“It’s mere coincidence,” said John Matousek.

Judge Elliott Levine said the fine was appropriate given Williams’ age, health and lack of criminal history, though he said his behavior scared the victim.

“It’s always very difficult, especially in a stalking where an individual can’t really see it, even though there’s a whole bunch of charges here,” Levine said.

Matousek read aloud from a letter that Williams wrote to the victim but was unable to send because of a four-year restraining order. Williams himself made only a brief statement.

“There’s nothing right now I can say. It’s too emotional for me. Only that I still have a hard time accepting all of this,” Williams said. “The loss of a friendship means more to me than — after 10 years, it tears me apart.”


La Crosse County Circuit Court felony cases in May

Chris Hubbuch can be reached at 608-791-8217. Follow him on Twitter @chrishubbuch.

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