By David Porter, AP
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Prosecutors called a New Jersey man “dangerous to society” after pieces of a human body were found in his closet, including a head, part of an arm, and a torso dressed in a necktie and suit jacket.
Robert Williams, of Newark, pleaded not guilty Monday to desecrating human remains and separate charges of child sexual abuse.
Police initially went to Williams’ home to investigate allegations he abused a 12- to 13-year-old boy over several months, but when they searched the apartment they found an altar and mummified human remains that had apparently been used in religious ceremonies, according to prosecutors.
The county’s medical examiner has yet to identify the remains, but Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Michael Morris said Monday that they aren’t related to the sex abuse charges.
The remains, found in a plastic bin, “raise the specter of a person out of step with society and dangerous to society,” Morris told the judge in arguing for detention.
At the conclusion of the brief proceeding, state Superior Court Judge Ronald Wigler ordered Williams held pending trial.
Williams’ lawyer, public defender Susan Friedman, had argued that he could be released on home confinement and electronic monitoring. She said he had lived in the area for 18 years and has one disorderly person offense on his record that dates back more than 10 years.
New Jersey largely eliminated cash bail in 2017 and gave defendants the right to offer evidence showing why they should be released before trial.
The judge noted that Williams’ alleged crimes carry a presumption of detention and that Williams would be sentenced to a minimum of 25 years if he is convicted of the most serious charge, aggravated sexual assault of a child under 13.
Statements by Williams corroborated the alleged victim’s statements, Wigler said. “Reams of text messages” describe the alleged abuse, Morris added.
Williams is next scheduled in court Sept. 16.