“I would hope that every institution would want to consider the past criminal or unethical behavior of students that are transferring to their school and to take that into consideration in terms of the safety of staff and students,” said Becky Perkins, spokeswoman for the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence.
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The incident at Wright State occurred Nov. 8, 2015, in the Hawthorn Hall dorm. According to the account his accuser gave police, Walker lured her into his room across the hall from her saying he needed a toiletry item. When she brought the item to his room, she alleges, Walker groped her and forced himself on her sexually. She later went to the hospital for a rape exam.
The Daily News does not typically identify accusers in rape cases and is not naming the woman, who is no longer a Wright State student.
Walker gave police a different version of what happened, saying the encounter was consensual, and a jury would later find him not guilty.
Wright State suspended Walker on Nov. 12, 2015. In his letter of suspension, obtained by this newspaper, the school linked Walker to other incidents.
“According to the reports that I have received from the Campus Police Department as well as four students, you are alleged to have had intercourse with two students against their will and inappropriately touched a student’s buttocks and/or breasts without their permission,” says the letter, which was signed by Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Gary Dickstein.
Eight days later, on Nov. 20, 2015, Walker was expelled, court records show. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was arrested in August 2016 while in boot camp at Parris Island, records show.
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A Greene County jury on Jan. 12, 2017, found Walker not guilty on the rape charge and returned no verdict on an assault charge involving the same woman. Walker pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, avoiding a retrial.
His legal troubles weren’t over, though Walker says he committed no crimes. “All you need to know is I didn’t do anything,” he said in an interview.
It’s unclear when he enrolled at Wilberforce, but just 10 days after his verdict in the Wright State case — on Jan. 22, 2017 — a fellow Wilberforce student alleges Walker raped her in an off-campus house in Xenia Twp.
The incident came to light that evening when Greene County deputies responded to Greene Memorial Hospital on a possible sex offense, according to a sheriff’s office report.
A 19-year-old woman underwent a sexual assault examination at the hospital after reporting that she had been raped that afternoon. The Greene County Prosecutor presented the case to a grand jury and Walker was indicted on Oct. 20, 2017.
After the second acquittal — in a jury trial presided over again by Wolaver — the judge directly addressed Walker, according to a trial transcript.
“Mr. Walker, this is the second time you’ve appeared in my court and you’ve received a not guilty verdict each time,” Wolaver said. “Do not be back here.”
“Yes, sir,” Walker responded.
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His attorney in the Xenia case doesn’t deny that Walker had sex with the Wilberforce student.
“It was our position that the sex happened, but it was consensual and that was the basis of our defense and that’s what the jury agreed with and that’s why they said not guilty,” attorney Travis Kane told the newspaper.
After the verdict was announced, Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller told reporters rape cases are “always difficult,” in part because there are rarely witnesses to what took place.
Still, Haller said his office “will not flinch or turn away from these cases. We believed that we had probable cause to go forward that the sex was without consent. Unfortunately the jury found otherwise and we have to respect their verdict.”
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Wright State sued
Several high-profile cases have put colleges under fire for not protecting students from sexual assault. After more than 150 women testified that they were molested by former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar, Ohio Gov. John Kasich last month asked the state department of higher education to conduct a review of how Ohio universities are complying with the federal law that mandates an aggressive response to sexual assault allegations. The review remains ongoing, according to the governor’s office.
The lawsuit the female former Wright State student filed in November alleges the school should have done more to protect her. In one of the allegations — disputed by Walker — the lawsuit says he “received a disciplinary record for sexual assault while in high school, which Wright State knew of.”
The lawsuit further alleges that Wright State was slow to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Walker and didn’t act on complaints that he was on campus after he was expelled.
“Wright State’s enrollment of Walker and failure to protect students from him constitutes deliberate indifference,” the lawsuit states.
John Glankler, the Cincinnati attorney who filed the lawsuit, declined to say what evidence he has of any misconduct by Walker in high school.
Walker has no documented record in Greene County juvenile court, according to court officials, and his high school disciplinary records are not public, making it difficult to verify the allegation using public records.
Wright State officials wouldn’t comment on the pending litigation, but in its court response to the lawsuit the school argues it is not liable for any “prior acts of purported harassment” when Walker was a high school student. The university also noted that it acted quickly to suspend Walker when it became aware of the alleged incident in the dorm.
In a phone interview last week, Walker denied that he was disciplined in high school for sexual misconduct, as the lawsuit alleges.
“That never happened,” he said.
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‘He was hoping to put this behind him’
Walker said he only attended Wilberforce for a few weeks, dropping out because of a paperwork problem.
“They said that I didn’t fill out my application right, so I wasn’t allowed to come there,” he said.
Wilberforce officials declined to provide information about why Walker left the school.
Kane said a jury found Walker not guilty using a much higher standard than university disciplinary hearings, which he said are “incredibly unfair to the accused.”
“I’ve been involved with college kids going through the disciplinary process and…. I hate to go as far as to call them a kangaroo court because there are some kind of rules in a kangaroo court,” Kane said.
The attorney said the allegations against Walker derailed some of his career plans.
“I know he was eager to continue college and perhaps go into the military as well,” he said. “I know he was hoping to put this behind him.”