GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Allegations that Johnson City police benefited from allowing Sean Williams to allegedly conduct and continue sex trafficking operations form the crux of an amendment to a federal civil lawsuit against the city on behalf of multiple alleged Williams rape victims.

Attorneys for nine “Jane Doe” plaintiffs who claim to have been raped by Williams submitted the amendment, and a motion that it be accepted, on Saturday in U.S. Federal District Court.

The new allegations claim JCPD officers obstructed justice and — for a time — prevented investigation into what the suit alleges was sex trafficking by Williams. News Channel 11 has not been able to confirm whether Williams, as claimed in the new filing, is under federal investigation for alleged sex trafficking. The City of Johnson City flatly denied the allegations of JCPD complicity in any sex trafficking.

“In exchange for turning a blind eye, JCPD officers seized hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from Williams, all while refusing to take meaningful steps to protect women and children in Johnson City and to stop his known sexually predatory behavior,” the amendment states.

The amendment claims officers “knowingly failed to investigate Williams’ crimes against women,” that they failed to refer charges for prosecution and that they intimidated and dissuaded plaintiffs from pursuing criminal charges.

It says Detective Toma Sparks “knowingly made false statements to plaintiffs” in what amounted to obstruction of a criminal investigation and that Sparks and Justin Jenkins, a newly named defendant, “conspired with Williams to destroy evidence, including digital evidence which showed Williams raping unconscious women whom he had drugged.”

A mid-2023 photo of Sean Williams provided by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Williams was detained temporarily at Washington County Detention Center after his arrest on federal charges. (Photo: Washington County Sheriff’s Office)

All those alleged actions, the amendment claims in one of two new counts, “displayed an entire want of care and a conscious and depraved indifference to the consequences of their (defendants’) conduct.”

Attorneys for those plaintiffs submitted the amended complaint Saturday in U.S. federal district court. Its new arguments contain multiple details that were not available when the plaintiffs first filed in late June in order to meet some potential statute of limitations deadlines.

The lawsuit was initially filed June 21, just under a year after former assistant U.S. attorney Kat Dahl sued the city in a related case.

The City of Johnson City responded to a request for comment by saying that its lawyers were aware of the motion to amend and that if the court granted it, “the City will respond in a timely manner.”

The City also offered a short but strongly-worded statement:

“The City did not seize any money from Sean Williams. To claim that the Johnson City Police Department was complicit in any sex-trafficking venture or that its officers benefitted financially from such abhorrent activity is specious, frivolous and has been asserted by the Plaintiffs without any factual basis whatsoever.”

The initial Jane Doe suit accuses the Johnson City Police Department (JCPD), former Chief Karl Turner, former Captain Kevin Peters, Sparks and unnamed co-defendants of violating the plaintiffs’ Constitutional right to equal protection. It also alleges negligence through failure to train and to supervise, violation of the federal Title IX law (sex bias) and violation of Tennessee’s Tort Liability Act.

The amendment adds two new federal counts against the JCPD and several individual officers to the six previous counts: sex trafficking and obstruction of enforcement of sex trafficking. As evidence of Williams’ involvement in sex trafficking, it cites a purported federal investigation into sex trafficking launched in November 2022.

News Channel 11 submitted questions surrounding the purported investigation to the U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday afternoon. A spokesperson responded late Tuesday afternoon with an email saying the DOJ is “declining comment.”

“The evidence the FBI collected in the sex trafficking investigation proved to be overwhelming …” including the discovery of images of Williams “sexually assaulting unconscious women, including several Plaintiffs in this case,” the amended complaint now reads.

News Channel 11 reported last week on the purported existence of similar videos and photos that were allegedly in Williams’ possession when Western Carolina University (WCU) police arrested him in Cullowhee, N.C. April 29.

In an affidavit for a search warrant to review devices that have been in JCPD’s possession since 2020, First Judicial District Criminal Investigator Mike Little said the North Carolina videos and photos showed more than 50 women being sexually assaulted in Williams’ downtown Johnson City apartment.

Williams had been the subject of a federal manhunt for nearly two years when he was arrested. The JCPD made an unsuccessful May 5, 2021 attempt to serve him with a federal indictment for being a felon in possession of ammunition.

The first new count alleges JCPD officers named in the suit — including a newly named defendant, investigator Justin Jenkins — “knew multiple women had reported Williams’ forced sex acts” and that Williams used “coconspirators to recruit and obtain women in exchange for things of value…”

It claims that “(i)nstead of arresting Williams and pursuing charges against him” officers “knowingly and corruptly mishandled women’s rape reports in exchange for seized narcotics assets, all in furtherance of the sex trafficking venture.”

A new allegation in the amended complaint on behalf of nine alleged Sean Williams rape victims. (Photo: WJHL)

The claims say that Williams’ alleged trafficking violated Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1591. The section criminalizes sex trafficking of children, or of anyone “by force fraud or coercion.”

The second new count in the amended complaint cites 18 USC 1591 (d), which reads: “Whoever obstructs, attempts to obstruct, or in any way interferes with or prevents the enforcement of this section, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for a term not to exceed 25 years, or both.”

The allegation of a cash seizure comes from search warrants executed by Sparks in September 2020, after a woman named Mikayla Evans fell from Williams’ fifth-story window. Included among items he applied to seize in a Sept. 23, 2020 warrant to search Williams’ safe was “‘any currency,'” found in it, the Doe amendment states.

“There were no facts stated in Det. Sparks’ warrants which connected ‘any currency’ with the offense under investigation, the attempted homicide of (Evans),” the complaint says. “To date, it is unknown exactly how much currency JCPD seized from Williams based on the September 23, 2020, search warrant.”

The new counts rely upon another section of Title 18, 1595, which allows victims of federal crimes to bring civil actions against the perpetrator or anyone who benefits or attempts to benefit from a criminal violation.

The amended complaint also incorporates significant portions of an outside audit of JCPD completed by Daigle Law Group (DLG). Those mentions include specific references to parts of the report that the lawsuit claims tie directly to several of its plaintiffs.

The complaint also quotes a specific finding from the DLG report that it says relates to the types of assaults allegedly suffered by its plaintiffs.

“Our review revealed instances where JCPD likely would have obtained statements and facts to support a prosecution if they had used the investigative tactics known to be effective and essential in sexual assault investigations, especially investigations of non-stranger sexual assault,” the suits says, quoting page 14 of the DLG report.

The new counts of sex trafficking and obstruction of the sex trafficking statute rest on a previously unreported allegation: that Williams wasn’t just allegedly sexually assaulting women, but was committing sex trafficking violations.

A new paragraph references Kat Dahl’s suit, in which the former prosecutor claims she pressed JCPD to broaden its investigation of Williams “based on the substantial evidence of the more serious charges, including the conduct of drugging and raping women.”

The amended Doe complaint claims that what Dahl was pressing police to investigate “constituted sex trafficking violations” — even though Dahl’s suit doesn’t allege that.

The amendment points to what it claims was a “conspiracy” by Williams and others “to recruit, entice, obtain, transport and maintain women who were drugged and forced to engage in sex accounts on account of which something of value was exchanged…” Those alleged activities, it claims, “constituted sex trafficking violations.”

The amended Doe complaint points to the DLG report in a claim that “reports and documentation concerning the sexual assault investigations were missing or unidentified because JCPD failed to initiate an internal affairs (‘IA’) investigation in response to the allegations of JCPD corruption in the Dahl Complaint.”

The DLG report does say that after it referred the allegations of “police corruption” to the District Attorney’s office and no outside investigation was ordered, “the Department should have moved forward with an internal investigation to address the misconduct allegations.”

It goes on to say that since the DA’s response Sept. 1, 2022, “we have received no information that JCPD is conducting an internal investigation into the allegations.”

And it adds, “The purpose of the investigation may have assisted us in locating or identifying documents specific to the JCPD’s investigation of sexual-related cases that were not discovered during the DLG audit.”

The amended Doe complaint states that the lack of an internal investigation means “there are now documents that cannot be located or identified relating to the sexual assault investigations of Williams.”

The Daigle report, though it includes pages of analysis and criticism of JCPD’s investigative techniques and record-keeping of sexual assault investigations, does not specifically link the likelihood of lost or destroyed records to the Sean Williams case.

The latest filing in the case came Tuesday, when Judge Travis McDonough ordered the parties to consider allowing the dispute to be moved before a magistrate judge for mediation instead of proceeding toward trial. Both parties have 45 days to make that decision.