A former Birmingham police officer convicted of rape is seeking a temporary release from jail ahead of his sentencing, which has been delayed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Peter Williston, who was convicted in the rape of his stepdaughter earlier on Monday, is attempting to secure a bonded release following the postponement of his sentencing, originally scheduled for April 3. Williston’s lawyer filed a motion for his release shortly after he was found guilty. He’s currently being held without bond, online jail records show.
“It’s a motion to reinstate his bond,” private defense attorney Scott Harwell told Oxygen.com.
Court hearings have been suspended until mid-April, according to the New York Times.
While incarcerated, Williston has supposedly been living in solitary confinement for 23 hours of the day, AL.com reported.
“He’s in solitary confinement because he’s a police officer; that’s standard procedure,” Harwell added.
Prior to his conviction on March 23, Williston had been on bond, but was taken into custody after the jury announced their verdict. It took the jury only 30 minutes to reach their decision, according to AL.com.
Williston was found guilty of sexually assaulting his 14-year-old stepdaughter between 2008 and 2011, despite his defense team’s insistence the sex was consensual. The woman, now 26, testified against the disgraced police officer, disclosing she had sexual rendezvous’ with Williston a number of times each week for at least three years roughly a decade ago.
“I recognize it was disgusting and inappropriate,” Williston previously admitted, the Times reported. “I was an adult. I should have known better.”
Courts and correctional facilities across the country are grappling with carrying out their day-to-day operations amidst the viral outbreak. Coast to coast, court clerks and prosecutors’ offices have been shuttered and a number of inmates across the country — including high profile criminals such as Harvey Weinstein, Michael Cohen, and Bernie Madoff — are seeking release as the virus begins to spread through prison populations.
Williston, however, doesn’t appear to be at immediate risk of being exposed to COVID-19 due to his predominantly isolated confinement, Harwell confirmed.
“The only part of the recent motion related to the virus is due to the delay of court proceedings,” the defense lawyer added.
Williston is in “good mental spirits,” Harwell added in the motion, according to AL.com.
“Although counsel is not a psychologist, in the two lengthy conversations counsel had with the defendant, he did not appear to be a risk to harm himself,’’ he wrote.
Prior to his arrest, Williston served as a lieutenant and spokesperson for the Birmingham Police Department. He was a 17-year veteran of the force, according to the New York Times.
In 2018, Oxygen.com interviewed Williston regarding a low-speed highway pursuit of a bus that was stolen by teenagers armed with paintball guns.
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