Sex offender convicted of raping UofM student, DA says

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A man is facing serious charges after raping a student.

Willie James Taylor Jr., 39, was convicted Friday of raping a University of Memphis freshman student he was trying to recruit for his online prostitution business, said Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich.

He is on the state’s Sex Offender Registry.

The courts found Taylor guilty of rape, two counts of promoting prostitution and assault involving bodily injury, a release said.

Taylor is scheduled to be sentenced later by Judge Chris Craft.

According to testimony in the week-long trial, the student said that in September of 2018 she was befriended online by a woman working for Taylor who told her she could make money as an escort.

The 18-year-old student said she did not believe the work would require having sex, and that the woman picked her up at her dorm to discuss the matter further, according to court records.

Taylor was waiting in the car, court records said, and they drove to a Whitehaven hotel on Winchester where she learned the woman, 21, was working for Taylor as a prostitute and recruiter.

According to the DA, the student told investigators that Taylor and the woman stated she would working for Taylor as a prostitute and that she would be required to give him the money.

Taylor then raped her and made her pose for suggestive photos to post online to attract customers, court documents said.

When the student eventually was allowed to leave, she returned to her dorm and called police.

A release said:

Taylor has been on the Sex Offender Registry since 2007 for a sexual battery conviction. He also has a pending aggravated rape cold case from 2005 involving a 16-year-old high student.

The trial this week was handled by Asst. Dist. Atty. Alyssa Hennig of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Unit (SVU) and by Asst. Dist. Atty. Jamie Kidd of the District Attorney’s Special Prosecution Unit (SPU) Division 8.

The SVU prosecutes cases of rape, child sexual abuse, severe physical abuse of children, elder abuse and vulnerable adult abuse. The SPU seeks maximum sentencing for repeat felony offenders.