BRADENTON -- A search is underway for a Sarasota man who failed to show up for the conclusion of a trial Wednesday where he was found guilty of sexual battery.
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Robert Earl Williams, 40, now has a warrant out for his arrest, according to court documents.
Williams had worked as a truck driver so detectives believe he may have fled the area, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
On Dec. 3, Williams pulled his truck in front of a 21-year-old female victim walking from 12th Street East onto 59th Avenue East. He offered her $50 for sex, but the female victim declined.
The victim testified Williams then got out of his truck, placed a hard object she thought was a gun against her back and ordered her to his truck, according to Assistant State Attorney Brian Chambers. Once in the car, she saw a black semi-automatic pistol.
Williams then drove her to an industrial area near 63rd Avenue East and 17th Street East where she was raped, she testified, then allowed to put her clothes back on and pushed out of the truck.
On Monday, Williams was late to court for jury selections because he had another court appearance in Sarasota. Once the Bradenton jury was selected, Circuit Judge Deno Economou warned him not to be late or he would forfeit his right to appear and the proceedings would continue without him.
Williams appeared Tuesday, Chambers said. On Wednesday, however, he did not appear for any testimony and was not present when the guilty verdict was read.
A bench warrant was issued for his arrest and bond on his other pending case has been revoked, according to court documents. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after Williams is apprehended.
Williams also has another pending sexual battery with a firearm case involving a female victim, 24. He could face a minimum of 25 years up to life in prison.
Williams was also a suspect in a 2010 sexual battery case, but the victim died and he was never charged.
Anyone with information on William's whereabouts can call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.