AUGUSTA — A Waterville man was sentenced to a year in prison after a sexually explicit image of a child was found as the screensaver on his cellphone.

Joel E. Williams Jr., 24, was sentenced to three years in prison but with all but 12 months of that sentence suspended on a single-count charge of possession of sexually explicit material of a minor under 12.

On May 7, 2017, Augusta police responded to Damon’s Beverage in Augusta after a customer, later determined to have been Williams, who at the time was not yet 21 years old, had tried to buy beer with a fake identification. A store worker refused to sell him the beer and he left the store, but left his cellphone behind on the counter.

Assistant District Attorney Shannon Flaherty said when the store worker picked up the phone to try to determine who it belonged to, he saw the screen of the phone which he believed to show sexually explicit material. She said the image was of a 5- to 8-year-old girl on a bed engaged in a sexually explicit act with an adult.

Williams returned about 20 minutes later and police informed him they had found a disturbing photograph on his phone and would be getting a search warrant to search his phone for other images.

Augusta and Maine State Police Computer Crimes Task Force officers searched his phone and found no other illegal images, but did find indications the phone had been used to visit websites with sexually explicit content.


Flaherty said Williams, who was charged with the crime in 2021, told police he had looked at websites using “trigger words” such as “underage girls” but did not usually download images from them. He told police he was unaware the image found on his phone was set as his screensaver and had no idea how that happened.

The sexually explicit image possession charge was a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Williams pleaded guilty to the charge as part of a plea agreement, in which he also pleaded guilty to several other crimes, which had lesser sentences than the child pornography charge. Several other charges were dismissed under the plea deal.

He will be required to register on the state’s sex offender registry for 25 years.

He pleaded guilty to three theft charges, three violating condition of release charges each for being in public beyond a curfew that was in place while he was out on bail, and two criminal mischief charges.

The theft charges he pleaded guilty to included the theft of more than $1,900 from his mother, after he had, without her permission, obtained her credit card or checkbook.


His mother took part in Friday’s court hearing at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta online via Zoom, and said she would like to see him serve as little time in prison as possible.

The other thefts he pleaded guilty to Friday were $47 in gasoline from Dick’s Country Market in Waterville in December of 2020, and a woman’s car he used without her permission.

The criminal mischief charges include damaging the property of a man’s car, causing about $580 in damage, and damaging a gas pump at a Big Apple in Waterville.

Williams was ordered to pay restitution to the victims. Superior Court Justice Deborah Cashman asked if he expected to be able to find employment when he’s released from prison. He said he does, and in the past had worked at BIW, in construction, and as an auto mechanic.

“I don’t think it will be an issue to find employment,” Williams said. “But it may take a while to pay (the restitution) off, I’ve never made more than $20,000 a year.”

Cashman approved a payment plan of $50 a month, with the payment to go toward restitution first, then to the $245 in fees imposed as part of his sentence.

The sentences for the theft, violating condition of release, and criminal mischief charges were less than the 12 months imposed in the possession of sexually explicit materials case, and will be served concurrently to that sentence. The three-year sentence, with all but 12 months suspended, on that charge means he will serve 12 months in prison as long as he complies with the terms of his probation, but could have to serve the full three years if he does not.

Probation conditions include that he have no illegal drugs and submit to random searches and testing, not view or possess any sexually explicit material, and maintain employment and secure the permission of his probation officer for any changes in employment or his residence.


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