In Pennsylvania—a state that has recently dealt with high-profile cases of child sexual abuse—one victim of such attacks is now facing execution. On September 6, more than two dozen child advocates joined former jurors, the victim’s widow, as well as former prosecutors and judges in urging Governor Tom Corbett and the Board of Pardons to grant clemency to death row inmate Terrance Williams (pictured). Williams suffered years of physical and sexual abuse from older males, and he eventually killed two of his abusers while in his teens. In a letter sent to Gov. Corbett, child advocates noted, “The evidence of abuse in this case is clear. There can be no doubt that Terry was repeatedly and violently abused and exploited as a child and teenager by manipulative older men. Terry’s acts of violence have, alas, an explanation of the worst sort: enveloped by anger and self-hatred, Terry lashed out and killed two of the men who sexually abused him and caused him so much pain.” In addition to child advocates and jurors, the victim’s widow supports clemency for Williams, who is deeply remorseful about his crimes. Mamie Norwood, the wife of Amos Norwood whom Williams kiiled, asked that he be spared, “I have come to forgive Mr. Williams. It has taken me many years. I want his life spared and I do not want him executed. I am at peace with my decision and I hope and pray that my wishes are respected.”

Among those publicly calling for clemency for Williams’ are 22 former prosecutors and judges, 34 law professors, 40 mental health professionals and over three dozen faith leaders from across Pennsylvania including the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput. If Williams is executed on October 3, 2012, he would be the first non-volunteer put to death by the Commonwealth in 50 years.

(“Child Advocates, Jurors and Victim’s Widow Urge Clemency for Terry Williams, a Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse Who Killed His Abusers,” Press Release, September 6, 2012). For more information on Terrance Williams including the clemency petition filed on Sept. 6, visit See Clemency. Listen to DPIC’s podcast on Clemency.