Crime

Tri-City child rapist fled to Mexico. He’s back to pay the price

William G. Nicol, 80, will appear in Benton County Superior Court on Friday, more than one year after he ran from the Justice Center as a jury was wrapping up deliberations in his child rape case. The Montana man was arrested Oct. 3 in Southern California not far from the Mexico border.
William G. Nicol, 80, will appear in Benton County Superior Court on Friday, more than one year after he ran from the Justice Center as a jury was wrapping up deliberations in his child rape case. The Montana man was arrested Oct. 3 in Southern California not far from the Mexico border. Tri-City Herald

An 80-year-old man who didn’t want to hear jurors declare him a child rapist is back in Kennewick, two months after his arrest at a Southern California border crossing.

William G. Nicol was booked into the Benton County jail just before 8 a.m. Thursday.

The Montana man went on wanted lists in October 2016 after he fled the Benton County Justice Center while the jury was wrapping up deliberations.

His absence didn’t stave off the verdicts.

Nicol was convicted of first-degree child molestation and two counts of first-degree rape of a child.

The charges include the aggravating circumstance that he was in a position of trust when he sexually assaulted a grade-school boy for at least four years.

Nicol is one of four sex-crime defendants in Benton County in the past three years to run off before or during his trial.

Today, Nicol will be in handcuffs when he appears in court for the first time following his extradition. He had been on the move from Imperial County, Calif., since Nov. 20.

He has a new felony charge of bail jumping, and awaits sentencing on the sex crimes.

nicol
William G. Nicol

While Nicol is looking at a mandatory minimum term of 13 1/2 years to 18 years in prison, Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra has said she will ask for a longer sentence.

The sex crimes carry a maximum life term.

A sentencing hearing likely will be scheduled for another date so the victim or his family can attend. Nicol also may have to get a new attorney since his trial lawyer has retired.

Court documents state that the boy told a relative in 2015 that he had been sexually abused by Nicol.

The boy then met with investigators and said the abuse started when he was young. He claimed Nicol would touch him inappropriately while the boy was taking a shower, and that escalated to being raped “on many occasions,” documents said.

Nicol denied the allegations in the weeklong trial, saying that the boy had been put up to it.

After Judge Jackie Shea Brown received a written question from the jury, attorney Jim Egan advised his client it wasn’t looking good based on the note.

Nicol reportedly told Egan he was going to use the restroom. Instead, he fled the Justice Center.

Jurors announced they had a decision within a half-hour, but Nicol couldn’t be found and Egan was unable to reach him.

Nicol reportedly told his lawyer he was going to use the restroom. Instead, he fled the Justice Center.

A security officer told the judge that a man matching Nicol’s description had been seen leaving the courthouse, first walking and then running to the parking lot.

Nicol had posted $10,000 bail and been free while his case worked through the judicial system. He would have been taken into custody immediately after the trial with the guilty verdicts.

Shea Brown issued a nationwide warrant on Oct. 21, 2016. The U.S. Marshals Service was notified to help the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in tracking down Nicol.

He is from Plains, Mont.

Then at 6:40 p.m. Oct. 3, Nicol was stopped at the Calexico West Port of Entry in the Imperial Valley. He was driving a 1995 Lincoln Town Car and trying to enter the U.S.

A Customs and Border Protection officer ran Nicol’s name against law enforcement database systems and discovered the warrant, according to a news release from the federal agency.

An officer confirmed Nicol’s identity using his fingerprints and verified the Benton County warrant, then handed him over to the custody of state and local officials.

A previous report said Nicol had turned himself into authorities.

It is not known how much time he spent in Mexico in the past year.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531, @KristinMKraemer

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