Man repeatedly molested foster children in ‘punishment room’ inside shed, police say

Authorities fear there could be more victims

Lawrence Henry Williams (Volusia County Jail)

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A man who fostered several children would take the girls to a “punishment room” inside a backyard shed where he would spank them and sexually abuse them, according to the Holly Hill Police Department.

A charging affidavit notes that four victims detailed abuse allegations against Lawrence Henry Williams.

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Records show the girls all had similar accounts of Williams taking them to a shed that had three rooms -- a game room, a fun room and a punishment room -- and telling them to pull down their pants and underwear so he could spank their bare buttocks.

The girls said during these encounters Williams would molest them and force them to touch him inappropriately as well, according to the report.

Police said one girl, who was 8 at the time when the abuse first occurred, was raped by Williams in the “punishment room.”

Another girl said she had been sexually abused by her brother and father in the past and Williams said he was “helping her” when he molested her, according to the affidavit.

One girl said Williams once gave her a choice: either get spanked or touch him inappropriately, the report said.

Records show the victims said Williams would bring them into the “punishment room” early in the morning before anyone else was awake, sit them down on the couch and cover their laps with a blanket while he molested them so that no one would know what was happening if they walked in the room.

Representatives from the organization Williams used to foster with said they were initially hesitant to place any children with him but he passed the background check and answered all the questions correctly. They also said that he seemed eager and requested that young white girls be placed in his home, according to the report.

Williams was arrested in Port Orange Tuesday on one count of sexual battery and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation. Police said more charges could be forthcoming.

The Florida Department of Children and Families released a statement on Williams:

“The Department of Children and Families (DCF) responded immediately to these allegations, and has been coordinating with law enforcement. The safety and wellbeing of children is the top priority of DCF. When these allegations were first received, the children who were in the home were removed immediately.  DCF is investigating this case, and all additional information related to this investigation is confidential, per section 39.202, Florida Statutes.”

DCF said they will work to assist any victims in these types of cases.

“Anyone who wishes to become a foster parent in the state of Florida must go through a comprehensive series of background checks that are completed by DCF staff, including reference checks. These include federal, state and local criminal history checks that go back for decades.  DCF looks for any disqualifying offenses, as detailed in Florida law.  Additionally, DCF checks for any history of reports with the Abuse Hotline.”