Rape suspect arrested in Alaska while out on bail

August 23—A Troy man who allegedly broke the conditions of his release and left the state while awaiting trial in Flathead County on rape and sexual assault charges was arrested over the weekend in Juneau, Alaska.

William James Pillans, 26, allegedly fought local police officers in Juneau after being informed of an extraditable felony warrant out of Montana. Several officers suffered minor injuries during the Aug. 21 arrests, according to a press release issued by Lt. Krag Campbell of the Juneau Police Department.

The 26-year-old is accused of raping one teenage girl and sexually assaulting two others during an underage 2021 Halloween party in Kalispell. Prosecutors filed felony charges of sexual intercourse without consent and sexual assault as well as misdemeanor sexual assault in early April.

Pillans stopped checking in with probation and parole in late June, according to court documents. District Judge Amy Eddy issued the warrant on July 22.

His arrest comes a little more than three months after Eddy reduced his bail from $150,000 to $25,000 following a contentious bond hearing in Flathead County District Court. At the time, Pillans was in county jail after authorities raided his family home in Lincoln County, seeking his arrest on the newly filed rape and assault charges.

Pillans’ mother testified during the hearing that they were aware of his charges. He had opted to delay turning himself in to care for her as she recovered in Troy from surgery for a brain aneurysm, she said.

Then — as now — Pillans was serving suspended sentences for criminal endangerment and assault on a peace officer. He pleaded guilty by way of an Alford plea to those charges in January 2020. In an Alford plea, the defendant acknowledges a jury likely would find them guilty but maintains their innocence. In January 2022, he saw those sentences revoked following probation violations.

But since then Pillans had abided by the conditions of the suspended sentences, argued his attorney, Maury Solomon.

Deputy County Attorney Andrew Clegg offered a different assessment.

“He has victimized the community for four years,” Clegg told the court. “It’s time to keep him in.”

PILLANS CAME to the attention of authorities in Alaska after they received a report of a disturbance between a man and a woman on a floating dock in Juneau about 9:07 pm, Aug. 21.

Officials said the man, identified as Pillans, had allegedly thrown around objects while acting “irate” and may have pushed the woman. When officers arrived at Statter Harbor, they found Pillans in a vessel tied up to the float, told him of the warrant and asked him to come into custody, according to the press release.

When Pillans allegedly refused, officers escorted him off the boat, but not before he grew physically. According to the press release, Pillans also suffered minor injuries during the ensuing scuffle.

Charged with four misdemeanor counts of assault on a police officer in the fourth degree and one count of resisting arrest, Pillans was taken to Lemon Creek Correctional Facility. Campbell said Pillans is being held on a commitment to await requisition, keeping him in custody pending extradition to Montana.

Although officers later interviewed the woman involved in the disturbance, they found insufficient evidence of other crimes, Campbell wrote in the press release.

BACK IN Montana, Probation and Parole Officer Steve Watson wrote that “Pillans has proven that he is unwilling to comply with probation” in a July 15 violation report.

Watson, who supervised Pillans in Lincoln County on his suspended sentences, recommended he return before the court to answer to the alleged violations. Prosecutors attached the violations report to their petition to revoke bond as evidence of Pillans’ failure to follow the conditions of his release.

Watson wrote that Pillans violated his suspended sentences by failing to submit regular reports and contact his supervising officer upon request as well as undergo substance abuse treatment. Directed to provide weekly updates, Pillans allegedly stopped contacting probation and parole officers after June 15. He also allegedly ignored a voicemail message left on his phone, according to Watson’s report.

Additionally, he stopped checking in with the staff at a local treatment facility after June 16, the report said. Watson provided emails from Pillans’ substance abuse counselor as evidence. According to those communications, he was working on his treatment plan when he cut off contact.

If found to have broken the terms of his suspended sentences, Watson suggested Pillans “receive a secure placement at the prison.”

“He has failed to comply with the most basic condition of reporting as directed,” Watson wrote in the report.

News Editor Derrick Perkins can be reached at 758-4430 or dperkins@dailyinterlake.com.

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