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Man gets 21 years in prison for rape of University of Memphis student

He was sentenced to 15 years with no parole for rape and six years for promoting prostitution. A judge ordered the sentences to be served consecutively.
Credit: Shelby County Jail
Willie James Taylor

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A man who has been preying on women for more than a decade was sentenced to 21 years in prison on Thursday for luring a University of Memphis freshman from her dorm and raping her at a motel, Shelby County Dist. Atty. Amy Weirich announced.

Willie James Taylor Jr., 39, was sentenced to 15 years with no parole for rape and six years for promoting prostitution. A judge ordered the sentences to be served consecutively. 

Prosecutors said Taylor has a 15-year history of violence against women and called him “an ongoing threat to the safety of this community, especially to the women of this community.”

Taylor was convicted last July after jurors heard testimony that in September of 2018, an 18-year-old UofM student was befriended online by a woman working for Taylor who told her she could make money as an escort.

According to a release, the student testified that she did not understand the work would require having sex, and that the woman picked her up at her dorm to discuss the matter further. Taylor, however, was waiting in the car and drove them to a Whitehaven hotel on Winchester Road where she learned the woman was working for Taylor as a prostitute and as a recruiter.

The student said they told her that she too would be 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. When the student eventually was allowed to leave, she returned to her dorm and called police.

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 school student.

Taylor has criminal convictions in Davidson County for aggravated assault and sexual battery in 2007; domestic assault (bodily injury) in 2013; aggravated assault (strangulation) in 2015; and violation of the Sex Offender Registry in 2014 and in 2016.