A former information technology manager for an online publishing company in Raleigh pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to sexually molesting an 8-year-old girl and videotaping the act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
William Towner Akers could spend up to 30 years behind bars after pleading guilty to one count of manufacturing child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 15, said Don Connelly, a spokesman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh.
Akers’s plea comes at the end of a federal investigation that began in January 2014 when law officers searched the home of Bailey Joe and Elizabeth Mills outside Sanford and recovered several laptop computers, external hard drives and cellphones. State Bureau of Investigation agents conducted a forensics examination of the computers and discovered several homemade videos taken by the Mills.
Federal agents eventually determined that the videos showed Akers sexually molesting the girl, but not before deputies with the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office mistakenly arrested Tommy Keith Wall and charged him with raping a 13-year-old girl and taking part in the making of child pornography.
Wall was released from the Harnett County jail after spending 105 days behind bars and was exonerated in October.
Federal agents did not arrest Akers until March 12, after they distributed a wanted poster with his photo, asking for the public’s help in identifying him. Agents described the man as a “predator,” but only knew his name as “John Doe aka Peter Gilbert.” Akers worked at Lulu Enterprises Inc. and was living in Orange County at the time of his arrest.
Both Bailey Joe and Elizabeth Mills pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to federal charges of making child pornography.