published Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Teenager accused of rape to be tried as adult

Reading from a piece of notebook paper held by a court officer, 16-year-old Deacon Williams told a rape victim's family member he is sorry for the attack.

On Friday the teen was transferred from Juvenile Court to be tried as an adult on charges of aggravated rape, aggravated assault and aggravated robbery.

The victim testified, recounting details of the attack and sometimes quietly sobbing. She left after testifying and was not there to hear Williams' apology.

"I would like to apologize to [her]. I know nothing I say can take away the pain," Williams said. "I'm truly sorry, and I hope one day she can forgive me."

The 30-year-old woman, whose name is withheld under Chattanooga Times Free Press policy on sex crime victims, was jogging Oct. 12 when two teens followed her on bikes, attacked her and took turns raping her near Finley Stadium.

Williams' family had hopes that Special Judge Jay Blevins would show "grace and mercy" and opt to try him as a juvenile.

But Assistant District Attorney Claire Bryant argued the teen should be tried as an adult.

"There was no grace or mercy shown to [the victim] that morning by Finley Stadium," Brant said. She argued that if Williams is tried as a juvenile, he would face incarceration only until he turns 19.

"It will leave people at risk," Brant said. "He is a danger to this community."

Williams' hands were handcuffed behind his back as he leaned forward in a chair sitting before the judge. During the lengthy hearing, the teen's mother occasionally wiped his face with her hand.

"Peer pressure, I think it overwhelmed him, but he is a good person," said the mother, Bridgette Bussey, who sat at his side throughout the proceedings.

The person described in the attack is not the son she knows.

"He's very gentle. He tells me he loves me every day," Bussey said.

Williams' co-defendent, 18-year-old Devontavious Bryant, has a bond set at $450,000. Williams, who has a conviction for possessing marijuana, has a $100,000 bond.

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