Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa personal trainer accused of sexual battery is arrested in Arkansas

TAMPA — After a three-hour manhunt, federal marshals on Friday arrested a Tampa personal trainer accused of sexually battering female clients.

About 30 women have complained to authorities about James Elbert Williams' behavior — characterizing it from creepy to criminal — and three so far have resulted in formal charges.

Last week, marshals tracked Williams, 39, down to his hometown of Little Rock, Ark., and arrested him on a sexual battery warrant. He posted bail the next day.

On Friday, they got another request. A third incident had prompted an arrest warrant. So six marshals headed to Williams' father's trailer, in a rural area east of Little Rock.

As they pulled up, Williams stood barefoot in the back yard. He saw them coming.

And he ran, authorities say.

As he disappeared into the bramble of oak trees and maples, they stopped.

"He runs a fitness center," U.S. Marshal Jim Hays said. "He's in pretty good shape."

The dogs couldn't track his scent. A helicopter had trouble seeing through the dense woods, about a square mile in size. So the marshals called in backup and about 20 officers set up a perimeter.

Nearly three hours passed. Then at about 12:45 p.m., Williams approached a local resident and asked to borrow a cell phone.

He called his father, James Williams II, and asked his dad to pick him up, Hays said.

The younger Williams had no idea his father was cooperating with authorities.

His run was over.

Williams was first arrested in Tampa on July 1, accused of sexually battering a woman through her capri workout pants as she exercised on a mat at his gym.

After her story was publicized, more women started coming forward.

Some said Williams had given them unwanted massages and held them close as they worked out. Some said he had invited them to his house and made them uncomfortable.

Other women's allegations were criminal. They said his touching went too far, the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office reported.

Each claim is being investigated as a separate incident, and two detectives are on the case. More charges could be filed, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

The latest arrest is in connection with a sexual battery that occurred this spring at Williams' Get Fit gym at 12400 N Dale Mabry Highway, deputies said. The woman, age 55, was a client.

The other two charges Williams faces are from incidents at his other gym, Club Tone on Linebaugh Avenue.

Before Williams was arrested July 13 on the second charge, he had eluded authorities for a week. That time, U.S. marshals tracked him down to a hotel in Little Rock, Ark.

He didn't run that time, Hays said.

Williams was allowed to post $25,000 bail in Arkansas for that charge because his Tampa bondsman signed a letter stating that he or she had known Williams was in Arkansas and did not consider him a flight risk, said Mark Cox of the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office.

On the latest warrant, Williams' bail was set at $500,000.

Court records list his bondsman as Bridgett's Bail Bonds, which did not return a call Friday afternoon.

If Williams doesn't post bond on the latest charge, Hillsborough County authorities will try to extradite him, Carter said.

If he fights it, they will request a governor's warrant, the standard procedure for making a person facing charges return to the area where a crime allegedly occurred.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or

Tampa personal trainer accused of sexual battery is arrested in Arkansas 07/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 11:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 149, collapses buildings in Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 149 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75


    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.