#minorsextrafficking | Former San Jose workers gets 35 years for molestation, massage parlor sex crimes

A former San Jose city code enforcement officer was sentenced Friday to 35 years in prison for abusing his power in order to extort sex and solicit bribes from massage business owners, and for molesting two children prior to his work with the city.

William Gerry, 47, was sentenced by Judge Javier Alcala to serve 35 years in state prison and to pay nearly $100,000 in restitution to his victims. Gerry has already served 647 days of his sentence. He will be required to register as a sex offender for life if he is ever released from prison.

During Friday’s emotional court hearing, about a dozen family members of Gerry sat behind him on one side of the courtroom, while another dozen or so people, including several victims and his former wife, sat across the aisle. While the victims spoke through tears as they read testimonies to the judge, Gerry sat between his two lawyers, facing away from the speakers, never once acknowledging them.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – MAY 20: William Gerry, center, seated between his attorneys Elizabeth Grossman, left, and Lyn Agre, wait for victims to leave the courtroom after the sentencing hearing at the Santa Clara County Courthouse in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, May 20, 2022. Gerry, a former San Jose code enforcement officer, who has been convicted of abusing his permitting power to extort sex and solicit bribes from massage business owners, was sentenced to 35 years. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

One of his victims, identified in court only as Jessica Doe, 24, thanked the court for listening to her testimony and for “holding the defendant accountable for the horrible actions he has committed against me and many others.”

Gerry began sexually assaulting Jessica Doe when she was just 11 years old, she told the courtroom. She added that she is still struggling to cope with the trauma it has caused her in everyday life.

“The defendant is set to serve 35 short years in prison for his crimes and though I’m thankful that he’ll be locked away and society will be safer, for now, I cannot help but sit in pain knowing that I’m serving a life sentence because he chose to destroy my life for his own pleasure,” she said.

At the culmination of the hearing, Gerry was given an opportunity to say goodbye and hug several family members, some of whom were crying. Wearing a surgical face mask, he showed little emotion.

Although Gerry did not personally issue any statement, his attorney told the courtroom that he was “here today having accepted responsibility for his action.

“He has acknowledged his wrongdoing and prayed that those affected by his actions will be able to move forward on the path of healing,” his attorney, Lyn Agre, said during a brief statement.

Gerry served as a San Jose city code enforcement officer for more than a decade. He was the city’s only code inspector assigned to the massage enforcement program from 2017 to 2019, when his work went largely unsupervised, according to city records.

While overseeing the massage enforcement program, Gerry extorted more than $140,000 from massage business owners and coerced some of his victims — most of whom were Asian Americans who did not speak English as their first language — into sex in lieu of permit payments, according to court documents. In exchange, Gerry shielded them from police raids by conveying confidential information he received from law enforcement as part of his job.

Gerry pleaded no contest in March to felony counts related to the extortion, as well as additional counts for molesting two people when they were children in the early 2000s. Gerry was a relative of one of those victims he assaulted and served as a church youth group leader for the other. A no-contest plea has the same effect as a guilty plea.

An internal audit released by the city last year revealed a series of critical missteps by city officials in addressing complaints made against Gerry and uncovered alarming gaps in city code enforcement’s oversight procedures.

Between October 2018 and March 2019, four complaints were filed with the city regarding Gerry’s alleged misconduct. But because the complaints were submitted anonymously, the city’s police department determined it could not investigate the claims, leaving Gerry to continue working alone for the massage program until he resigned in March 2019.

In a December 2018 complaint submitted to the city’s online Whistleblower Hotline, a massage parlor owner implored city officials to conduct a “thorough investigation of William Gerry.”

The complaint, obtained by the Bay Area News Group through a public records request, described two instances in which Gerry visited the owner’s establishment. Gerry touched the individual several times on the shoulder and back with a “rubbing and squeezing motion” and asked the individual to accompany him to a back room and give him a massage, reportedly telling the owner that he would “help me open as many stores as I want if I take care of him,” the complaint read.

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