Crime & Courts

Former Wichita youth pastor pleads guilty to sex crimes against teenage girl

A former Wichita youth pastor pleaded guilty Friday to having sex with a 15-year-old girl while he worked at Word of Life Church.

Chauncey Walker, a 48-year-old former youth pastor, teacher and girl’s soccer coach at Word of Life, will now have to register with the state of Kansas as a sex offender for crimes involving the girl, now 20, committed between May 2012 and May 2013.

Walker was originally charged with aggravated indecent liberties and two counts of criminal sodomy against a 15-year-old girl after police received what a Facebook tipster claimed was a taped admission from Walker.

The Eagle obtained the tape from the girl’s attorney and then through a request to the court. In it, Walker admits to having sex with the 15-year-old girl.

“She was 15 when it started, and it progressed from there,” the former youth pastor says on the recording, which was recorded by a relative of the girl without Walker’s knowledge. Under Kansas law, only one party needs to consent to recording a conversation.

After he had sex with the girl, she said he made her promise that if anyone asked, she was to say that it was her idea, according to an affidavit filed by a sheriff’s detective.

“Things with Walker started right after her 15th birthday,” she told a detective working the case. He “took her out for ice cream and flirted with her.” 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 for a while.

They later had sex at Ground Zero, the church’s youth building, in Walker’s car in the country, at his house and in different hotels, according to the girl’s account in the affidavit.

Once the allegations surfaced, Walker conceded, he wasn’t honest at first about her age “because, I’ll just be honest — I didn’t want to go to jail,” he said in the recording.

If Sedgwick County District Judge David Kaufman agrees to the terms of the plea deal, Walker will be sentenced to 95 months, or nearly 8 years.

For aggravated indecent liberties with a child, Walker faces a sentence of 61 months. For aggravated indecent solicitation of a child, Walker faces 34 months. The judge can sentence Walker to as many as 281 months, or around 23 ½ years, depending on Walker’s criminal history.

Kaufman read the charges to Walker, who has been in Sedgwick County Jail since Aug. 23. Kaufman said Walker signed the plea agreement.

Kaufman said Walker had a relationship with a 15-year-old girl, whom he identified by the initials K.G., while Walker was the youth pastor at a local church and that during a one-year period, from May 22, 2012 to May 22, 2013, Walker had sex with the girl.

He said Walker “enticed or invited, persuaded or attempted to persuade” the girl into “a vehicle or a room or some secluded place” to commit unlawful sexual acts.

By signing the plea agreement, Walker waived his right to a trial. His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 9 at Sedgwick County District Court.

The victim in Walker’s case has filed a separate lawsuit against the church and the senior minister at Word of Life, Robert J. Rotola Sr., seeking a trial and damages of more than $575,000, alleging the church and Rotola failed to properly supervise Walker and implement any reasonable procedure or protocol to protect her.

Chance Swaim: 316-269-6752, @byChanceSwaim