HOUMA, La. — A Houma girls’ youth basketball coach has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to 25 years in prison for child sex trafficking after an exclusive WWL-TV investigation showed he managed to keep coaching girls after his 2017 arrest.
Derrian Williams, 31, was sentenced last Friday shortly after pleading guilty to all three child sex counts he's faced since February 2017 – trafficking a child for sexual purposes, attempted trafficking of a child for sexual purposes and felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
The sentence also requires Williams to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Williams’ defense attorney, Jerri Smitko, told WWL-TV that the U.S. attorney’s office was considering bringing additional federal charges against Williams but agreed not to charge him in exchange for his guilty plea on the state child sex charges.
Williams was arrested Feb. 9, 2017, when a 16-year-old girl from Gulfport, Miss., called her mother and said Williams had picked her up in Mississippi, taken the teen to his house in Houma and forced her to have sex with him and threatened to make her perform sex acts with his “clients,” all as payment for driving her to Houma.
The girl said Williams told her she "now belonged to him and would work for him," according to a police report.
Williams was released on bond and outfitted with an ankle monitor, but his travel wasn’t restricted and he was only banned from contact with the 16-year-old who had accused him.
He was immediately banned from coaching youth basketball by Terrebonne Parish Recreation and removed as an assistant girls coach at Vandebilt Catholic High School in 2017. But a series of WWL-TV stories in April 2018 proved that Derrian Williams had continued coaching Terrebonne Parish Recreation girls’ basketball games while awaiting trial. The station used photographs, videos and interviews with witnesses to show that Williams coached a 7- and 8-year-old Terrebonne Parish all-star team to championships at two tournaments in the spring of 2018.
After the WWL-TV stories aired, the district attorney's office convinced Judge George Larke to change the terms of Williams’ release, to prevent him from coaching, visiting schools or holding a job dealing with children. The parish also imposed new background checks and credentialing policies for all youth sports volunteers and officials. Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove said he made the changes because of the WWL-TV investigation.
Sterling Washington, the Terrebonne Parish Recreation director at the time, initially told the station he didn’t know Williams was coaching the all-star team. But Washington resigned when WWL-TV showed a photograph of him sitting a few feet from Williams while they were selecting the girls for the all-star team. The station also obtained public records showing Washington signed off on hotel charges that showed Williams stayed with the girls for a tournament in Slidell.