Trial delayed since 2015
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Already postponed many times, the long awaited trial of former humane society executive David Keith Wills on a federal charge of allegedly trafficking a minor for sexual purposes has again been rescheduled.
Previous delays have been attributed to the Wills defense team allegedly stalling for time. The current postponement, however, was necessitated by the September 28, 2018 appointment of former federal prosecutor Hugo R. Martinez as Immigration Judge for the Fort Worth Immigration Adjudication Center.
Wills is now scheduled for trial in February 2019, nearly four years after he was first arrested in connection with the case. Taking over the prosecution are federal prosecutors from Houston, Texas, and Washington D.C.
Alleged offenses occurred in 2012-2013
Wills was formerly president of the Nashua Humane Society, the Michigan Humane Society, and the National Society for Animal Protection, and was later vice president for investigations at the Humane Society of the United States.
Wills left each position amid allegations of misuse of funds.
Previous allegations of sexual misconduct arose at the Nashua Humane Society and the Humane Society of the U.S., but did not result in criminal charges.
The current case against Wills was initially filed at the Texas state level, before being transferred to federal jurisdiction in 2017.
Altogether, the allegations against Wills originating as “continuous sexual abuse of a child” and “continuous trafficking of a child” have been before the courts since April 13, 2015, when Wills was arrested in Rockport, Texas, on a warrant alleging offenses in Cameron County, Texas, that were said to have occurred between July 2012 and November 2013.
Stiffer penalties possible in federal court
Parallel charges against Wills were filed later in 2015 in Nueces and San Patricio counties, also in Texas, alleging offenses involving the same parties said to have occurred between November 2013 and December 2014.
All of the state charges were eventually dropped, making way for prosecution of the federal indictment issued on June 29, 2017, which carries a greater likelihood that Wills, 66, will spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.
Arrested in Corpus Christi, Texas, five days after the indictment was issued, Wills “was permitted release upon posting a $5 million bond,” U.S. district court spokesperson Angela Dodge told ANIMALS 24-7.
Already a two-time loser
Originally scheduled for trial on the federal charge in September 2017, Wills’ attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the indictment and lost. The Wills legal team then appealed and lost again before U.S. District Court of Appeals.
Wills’ co-defendant, Maria Candelaria Losoya, 57, of Brownsville, Texas, pleaded guilty on August 2, 2017 to one federal count of trafficking a minor for sexual purposes, but has yet to be sentenced.
The apparent plea bargain settlement of the case against Losoya suggests that she is expected to testify against Wills. This could significantly increase the likelihood that Wills will be convicted, and upon conviction, receive a maximum sentence.
Alleged victim was nine years old
“Losoya appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Janice Ellington and admitted she was responsible for the continued sexual assault of her daughter which began in Brownsville in 2012,” reported John Morgan, then editor of the apparently now defunct Coastal Bend Chronicle. “Later, she traveled with the victim so that the attacks could continue. She further admitted that she did so in exchange for money. Prosecutors say Wills paid Lasoya to have sex with her daughter over the course of several years,” starting when she was nine years old.
“These attacks were committed in several locations across the region, including Portland, Rockport, and Brownsville. State charges are still pending in San Patricio County against Wills,” Morgan summarized.
Losoya, who like Wills was freed on bond, could receive “a minimum of 15 years and up to life in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine,” Morgan reported. “Upon completion of any prison term imposed, Losoya also faces a maximum of life on supervised release during which time the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children. Losoya will also be required to register as a sex offender.”
Long legal history
Even if the prosecution had not been transferred to federal jurisdiction via the June 2017 indictment, Wills might potentially have been facing life in prison, but only if convicted of particular combinations of offenses, as ANIMALS 24-7 explained in detail in Former HSUS vp David Wills hit with federal child sex charges on July 16, 2017.
The same ANIMALS 24-7 article also detailed Wills’ long history of previous brushes with the law.
“Bang-up” reform leader, said Pacelle
Wills’ tenure at HSUS ended with a 1996 conviction for embezzling and an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit brought by three HSUS employees who sued him for sexual harassment––one of whom, Cristobel “Kitty” Block, on February 2, 2018 ascended to the HSUS presidency.
Block became interim HSUS president following the surprise resignation of 13-year president Wayne Pacelle, less than 24 hours after Pacelle had apparently survived a board-funded investigation of sexual harassment allegations against him.
Pacelle as a magazine writer praised Wills in a May 1988 profile as a “bang-up” leader within the humane community.
Pacelle joined HSUS as vice president for governmental affairs in 1994, about 18 months before Wills’ departure in late 1995.
Pacelle became HSUS president in mid-2004.
Wills promoted animal use industries
Wills, meanwhile, for at least four years after leaving HSUS, was associated in various capacities with the International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, a front for animal use industries including whalers, sealers, vealers, and fur trappers.
Wills later became involved in a series of shrimp farming ventures. One of those projects, in South Africa, reportedly lost $42 million without ever getting into commercial scale production.