Teen Wrongly Jailed for Month Over Name Confusion

Florida cops got the wrong Cody Williams on sex-assault charges

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 25, 2014 7:27 PM CST

(Newser) – A Florida teenager spent 35 days in jail on sex-assault charges because it apparently never occurred to his arresting officers that two people might have the same name, reports the Florida Times-Union. Cody Lee Williams, now 19, was arrested last August and charged as an adult after a young girl told police that a "Cody Williams" had sex with her in 2012. Turns out, police were looking for Cody Raymond Williams, who attended the same school. Clay County deputies never showed the girl a photo after the arrest.

"Other than the name, there’s no other similarities," the attorney for the wrongly arrested teen tells the Los Angeles Times. Cody Lee Williams "had never met this girl and didn’t know anything about her." It was Williams himself who figured it out while looking over documents during a court appearance. Afterward, he called his mother, who helped set things straight. “We were just two guys with the same name at the same school,” he says. The other Cody Williams is due in court Monday. Three deputies had to attend counseling, and Deputy Sheriff Johnny Hawkins got suspended for 10 days without pay and transferred from the investigative unit. Hawkins apologized for the error yesterday, saying "arresting an innocent person is something we fear far more than letting a guilty person get away." The Times-Union reports that Williams plans to sue.

Cody Lee Williams, left, and Cody Raymond Williams.
Cody Lee Williams, left, and Cody Raymond Williams.   (Clay County Sheriff's Office)
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