ST. JOSEPH — A new trial date has been set for a man who eluded police for nearly five years before being captured.

William Troy Stanson, 54, will go on trial the week of Dec. 15 on four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. His original trial date in May was adjourned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the new date was set this week in Berrien County Trial Court.

Jeffrey Taylor, chief trial attorney for the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office, said Stanson is accused of repeatedly sexually molesting a girl under the age of 13.

At a preliminary hearing in February, the alleged victim, now 21, told Berrien County Trial Court Judge Charles LaSata that Stanson molested her for years and that, at age 16, she became pregnant with his baby and he took her to Indiana to have an abortion. The alleged victim told the court that she eventually told a good friend, then her mother, about the alleged assaults.

The Herald-Palladium does not identify potential sexual assault victims.

According to court records and previous testimony, Stanson was interviewed July 17, 2015, by Michigan State Police Trooper Jeffrey Baublit, but was not arrested that night. In the interview, Stanson denied several times that he had assaulted the girl, then eventually said he and the girl had “an intimate and loving relationship” that involved sexual intercourse, according to court records.

Before Stanson could be arrested on the CSC charges, he fled the area.

In 2014, he had been charged and convicted after pleading no contest to one count of accosting minors for immoral purposes, and was free on bond awaiting sentencing when the new accusations surfaced. Police said the accosting minors charge was related to events at an overnight Halloween party in Bridgman in 2014.

He failed to show up for sentencing in that case in August 2015, and Bridgman police and state police realized he had likely gone on the run.

On Jan. 29, the search for Stanson was the subject of an episode of “In Pursuit With John Walsh,” and featured an interview with Bridgman Police Sgt. Tom LaVanway, along with photos of Stanson.

The program aired on the Investigation Discovery TV network and within days, viewer tips led to Stanson’s capture in Mexico.

He is being held in the Berrien County jail without bond while awaiting trial.

Contact: jswidwa@TheHP.com, 932-0359, Twitter @HPSwidwa

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