GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Cody Lee Williams, 18, told Action News that he felt hopeless sitting in the Clay County Jail for 35 days for something he didn't do.
He was arrested in August on charges he had sex with a girl under the age of 12.
The problem is deputies had the wrong guy. Turns out there are two young men named Cody Williams in Green Cove Springs, both similar in appearance, both born the same year, both one-time students at Clay High School.
Documents obtained through the Clay County Sheriff's Office show that Cody Lee Williams had been in jail for weeks before learning the details of the sexual battery charge against him.
Once he put two and two together, he called his mom and told her about another Cody Williams with whom he once attended school.
She called investigators, who admitted they had made a mistake.
Cody Lee Williams was released from jail and Cody Raymond Williams was arrested.
In spite of it all, Kristopher Nowicki, attorney for the wrongly accused, said his client isn't angry about what happened.
"I think you'll find that he is salt of the earth. He's a nice kid. He doesn't hold a grudge. He doesn't want to be in the limelight, but he is," he said.
As a result of the mistake, Deputy Johnny Hawkins was suspended for 10 days without pay. Three other deputies were reprimanded.
In a document pertaining to Deputy Hawkins, Sheriff Rick Beseler wrote, "As a result of your incompetence, an innocent man was arrested for an offense that he did not commit."
The victim identified a Cody Williams as the suspect. But documents show Deputy Hawkins admitted he never showed the girl a photo spread to confirm the identify of the suspect.
Beseler issued the following statement about the incident:
“In fairness, let me say Deputy Hawkins has a good record with our agency. He has no prior discipline and many commendations in his file. In this case, however, he took short-cuts and didn’t do a thorough investigation. The result was an innocent man was accused of a terrible crime he didn’t commit. Arresting an innocent person is something we fear far more than letting a guilty person get away. I extend to Cody Lee Williams my apology for this error and we will seek to make things right for him. Detective Hawkins received disciplinary action for his lack of following proper investigative procedures and the supervisors who failed to properly review his work have also been held accountable. This incident is an anomaly for the CCSO and is certainly not representative of the excellent work done by the men and women of this agency day in and day out.”
Action News also received a statement from Cody Raymond Williams' family which said, "He has been falsely accused. It's going through the legal process now, and is in the judge and jury's hands."
While a lawsuit has not yet been formally filed, Cody Lee Williams' attorney said there's that is a possibility.