Crime & Courts

Youth pastor had sex with 15-year-old. Asks her to say it was her idea, report says

Listen to recorded conversations about church sex crime defendant

A recorded conversation with a relative of a teen that former Word of Life youth pastor Chauncey Walker allegedly had sex with. Another conversation is with Robert Rotola Sr., Word of Life senior pastor, speaking with the alleged victim.
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A recorded conversation with a relative of a teen that former Word of Life youth pastor Chauncey Walker allegedly had sex with. Another conversation is with Robert Rotola Sr., Word of Life senior pastor, speaking with the alleged victim.

A Wichita youth pastor began having sex with a church member right after she turned 15 and asked her to say she was older when it started and “that she had come on to him,” says an affidavit filed by a sheriff’s detective.

The criminal case against 48-year-old Chauncey Walker began this past August with a tip to the Wichita Police Department’s Facebook page. Detective Daniel Ribble, with the Exploited and Missing Child Unit, learned that the tipster obtained a taped admission from Walker, says the affidavit, received by The Eagle late Tuesday through a court record request.

The Eagle has previously reported on the taped admission after receiving a copy from an attorney for the alleged victim. Now 20, she is suing Word of Life Ministries and Schools Inc., senior minister Robert Rotola Sr. and his son, church school administrator Robert Rotola Jr. The lawsuit alleges that the church and the Rotolas neglected to supervise Walker, failed to fully investigate concerns about him and tried to cover up the allegations. In a court document, the church and the Rotolas have denied the allegations.

Walker has been charged with aggravated indecent liberties and two counts of criminal sodomy against the woman when she was 15. He remains in jail on a $100,000 bond and faces a June 4 trial. Walker’s defense attorney has declined to comment other than to say that they are working with authorities.

The affidavit, which provides the legal basis for arresting Walker, says the events occurred in Wichita between May 22, 2012, and May 22, 2013, when the alleged victim was 15.

The court document, signed by the detective, gives this account:

On Aug. 11, 2017, someone asked through the Police Department's Facebook page to make a report about someone in their 40s who had sex with a 15-year-old. On Aug. 14, Detective Ribble contacted the person who submitted the Facebook request, who said the victim was a relative. The man who gave the tip said he found out that Walker “had been having sex with her since she was 15 years old.” He said she left Kansas “to get away from Walker,” the affidavit said.

During the investigation, the relative told the detective that Walker until recently was a youth pastor with Word of Life Church in Wichita.

The relative said that when he called Walker and confronted him about the allegations, “Walker admitted to having sex with (the teen) when she was 15,” the document said.

The relative told the detective that the phone call was recorded. The relative provided the recording and screen shots showing the day and time of the call, the number called and the duration. Three days after the Facebook tip, the detective received a digital copy of the recorded phone call and reviewed it.

In the recording, a man identified himself as Walker and said he went to the girl’s house. They went to the back of the house, talked about "normal stuff," held hands and kissed. He told the girl he had to leave. Then, he said, days later he and the girl went to the church’s youth building, called Ground Zero. They were painting walls in the building, "one thing led to another," they kissed again and "it turned sexual," according to the recording.

“Walker said he was "very scared" of getting in trouble, losing his job and position, and his family,” the affidavit said, quoting from the recorded call.

He said he “ended up losing his job and family and he tried to be honest with his wife except for the details of the age of (the girl).” When the relative in the recorded conversation asked why the age was important, “Walker said he did not want to go to jail,” the affidavit said.

When the relative said Walker knew that the girl was 15 at the time “and there is a big difference between 15 and 16 ... Walker responded, ‘Right.’ ”

On Aug. 16, five days after getting the Facebook tip, the detective interviewed the alleged victim, who was 20 at the time of the interview.

She said, “Things with Walker started right after her 15th birthday.” That he “took her out for ice cream and he flirted with her.” That about a week later he came to her parents' house to see her. She said Walker was a close friend of her parents. She said she and Walker ended up in her bedroom and kissed on the lips for a while.

She described their sex at Ground Zero, saying Walker “took off her pants and his pants” and that they had intercourse, the affidavit said.

Walker “did not wear protection,” and when she said she was worried about getting pregnant from him, “he told her not to worry about it since he had a vasectomy,” it said.

She said they had sex again two days afterward, in the Ground Zero building during the afternoon.

The woman said they “continued having sex the entire year she was 15 years old and they would have sex in his car in the country, at Walker's house, and in different hotels.”

The relationship lasted until just before her 18th birthday, when she “tried to pull away from Walker.”

She said she “never told anyone about their relationship so she is not sure how anyone found out about her and Walker.”

He “told her he would get in trouble if anyone found out,” she said, “and when she was 15 years old he would make her promise that, if someone asked, she was to tell them she had come onto him.”

According to the affidavit, Walker had asked her to send nude photographs to him. She complied. And he sent her photos of himself.

The alleged victim said that she heard the recording and was sure that the person talking to her relative was Walker.

On Aug. 23, Ribble arrested Walker. Ribble noted that Walker's voice sounded to be the same as the man on the phone. Walker declined to answer questions without his attorney, the affidavit said.

That same day, Ribble interviewed the alleged victim’s father. He said he didn’t know anything had occurred between his daughter and Walker until he got text messages and an email indicating Walker had admitted to the relationship. Then the father received a text message from Walker asking for forgiveness, it said.

Also on Aug. 23, the alleged victim’s sister told the detective that when messages were first sent out about Walker and the relationship, Walker contacted the alleged victim “and asked her to tell everyone she was 17 at the time of their relationship,” the affidavit said.

The sister of the alleged victim said Walker had positions in the church and church school as a teacher, youth pastor and coach.

The sister said that when she was in high school, she was in Walker's youth group.

One night he took her home.

“Walker placed his hand on her midthigh with his open palm facing down towards her thigh,” the affidavit concludes.