By Sean Bowes
James Elbert Williams, a 39-year old New Tampa-based personal trainer, is back in Tampa’s Falkenburg Rd. Jail, facing multiple charges of battery and sexual battery. Williams has been arrested for the third time in a month, most recently in Arkansas, for sexual assault on a fifth victim, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) officials say.
Williams was first arrested on July 1, at his home in the upscale Cory Lake Isles subdivision, for sexually assaulting a woman by reaching behind her while she was lifting weights, and assaulting her through her workout pants. Since then, however, about 30 more women have come forward with similar stories.
Initially, Williams had posted his $50,500 bail at the Orient Road Jail and left town, closing the doors of his fitness business, Club Tone on Linebaugh Ave.
After his release, he headed north and west to Arkansas, where he booked a room at the Peabody Hotel, a four-star hotel in downtown Little Rock. Meanwhile, back in Tampa, another woman came to HCSO with claims that Williams had battered her, as well, resulting in another charge.
After the second victim came forward, a warrant for Williams’ arrest was issued by HCSO detectives, which led to his arrest by U.S. Marshalls at the Peabody Hotel on July 13.
However, according to HCSO spokesperson Debbie Carter, Williams’ attorney requested a bond hearing; and, on July 14, he was granted a $25,000 bond in Hillsborough County Court. He posted bond the next day and was released from Pulaski County Jail in Little Rock.
Since the Little Rock arrest, Williams has been charged with another count of sexual battery, tallying his charges up to one count of battery and four counts of sexual battery, for these four victims, Carter says.
“So far, around 30 women have called in with similar stories as to what he is being charged with,” said HCSO spokesperson Melissa Kincheloe. “They’re all women who were clients (at Club Tone) who complained about his conduct.”
At this time, 18 women have been interviewed about their experiences with Williams. According to Carter, the other potential victims’ reports could lead to still more charges against Williams.
After the latest charges came to light, U.S. Marshalls searched for Williams, who was captured for a second time in Little Rock on July 22, with the use of police canines and helicopters. Hillsborough County Judge Chet Tharpe then denied granting Williams bond.
“He is a serious flight risk,” Tharpe said during a recent courtroom hearing.
In an attempt to lure in more clients and victims, Williams would use online-dating sites like Match.com to solicit women. Carter said that Williams posed as a white male and told different women about a personal trainer who had worked with his sister, and that she had phenomenal results. He would then recommend the women to Club Tone and become their personal trainer.
The women’s ages range from their 20s to their mid-50s, said Carter.
According to public records, Williams previously has been arrested for sexual battery in 2005, domestic violence in 2006, prowling in 2010, as well as numerous traffic violations. Additionally, complaints about his business tactics have been featured on watchdog websites like RipOffReport.com.
HCSO is asking anyone who has had contact with Williams and believe they could be the victim of a crime to call 247-8200.