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Investigation of Sexual Assault in Lassen Volcanic National Park results in Arrest

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Date: October 14, 2011
Contact: John Roth, Chief Park Ranger, (530) 604-6415

A Red Bluff mother reported to the Red Bluff Police Department that her daughter had been sexually molested earlier this year by Vernon Lee Williamson, Jr., age 61. The Red Bluff Police Department detectives were able to determine that the minor child (under 12 years of age) was molested at a location in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
 
Working with the Red Bluff Police Department, National Park Service special agents have been able to uncover additional evidence. Yesterday, a federal grand jury in Sacramento indicted Williamson on two counts of felony sexual assault. Williamson was arrested this morning at his Red Bluff home pursuant to a warrant issued yesterday by a U.S. District Court judge. Williamson faces a 30-year to life sentence if convicted. The arrest occurred without further incident.
 
"This significant case has a successful outcome only because of the excellent cooperation of the Red Bluff Police Department and several other agencies," said Superintendent Darlene M. Koontz. Other agencies in this combined effort included U.S. Marshalls and FBI working with National Park Service law enforcement staff.
 
Lassen Volcanic National Park rarely experiences such significant crimes. "The park has no record of sexual assaults, of any kind, for at least the past 15 years," noted Superintendent Koontz. "We intend to vigorously pursue all such matters to maintain a safe environment for the visiting public and local communities."
 
Williamson has been transported to a Sacramento County jail under this "no bail" warrant. The juvenile victim was placed in a protected environment.

Did You Know?

View of devastated area from Main Park Road.

The 29 mile Main Park Road was constructed between 1925 and 1931, just 10 years after Lassen Peak erupted. Near Lassen Peak the road reaches 8512 feet, making it the highest road in the Cascade Mountains. It is not unusual for 40 feet of snow to accumulate on the road near Lake Helen.