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Former hotel owner in Nauvoo convicted

SHARE Former hotel owner in Nauvoo convicted

A former Nauvoo hotel owner was convicted Monday of 11 counts of battery against eight former female employees.

Kay L. Walker could face fines and a two-year probationary period for offensively touching his employees at the Nauvoo Family Inn and Suites, Hancock County (Ill.) Attorney Karen Andrews said.

The guilty conviction is not a sexual offense, and Walker will not have to register on any sexual offender registries. Attempts to reach him on Wednesday were unsuccessful, but in a statement sent to the media in September Walker said all allegations against him were false.

Eight different victims, including one juvenile, were named in court documents. All were employed by Walker, most as housekeepers, Andrews said.

Court documents indicate the abuses took place between September 2001 and July 2003 at Walker's hotel. The charges state Walker had various types of sexual and physical "contact of an insulting nature" with the women.

Carthage Circuit Court Judge David Stoverink asked for a presentence investigation. Andrews said the battery counts will be on Walker's permanent record. Sentencing is set for April 12.

Prosecutors originally charged Walker with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, a class 2 felony; three counts of aggravated battery in a public place, a class 3 misdemeanor; and six counts of battery, a class A misdemeanor.

Andrews reduced the charges to misdemeanors. She said the only reason felony charges were ever filed was because the battery occurred outside of the state's 18-month statute of limitations. She said the women are now pursuing civil lawsuits as well.

Walker retired in September 2003, after his initial arrest, from his post as chief operating officer of the hotel's parent company. He has made large financial contributions to the community by growing the small, 20-room Nauvoo Inn and Suites into the community's largest business.

Nauvoo holds an important place in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as such is a popular destination for LDS travelers. It was there that the LDS Church flourished in the 1830s and '40s under its founder, Joseph Smith. The Nauvoo Temple was burned by an arsonist shortly after members of the church were driven from the Midwest city.

In June 2002, the modern-day LDS Church dedicated a reconstructed Nauvoo Temple, which has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors.

The city has only about 1,000 residents, but draws about 250,000 visitors annually, a Chamber of Commerce spokesman said.

E-mail: ldethman@desnews.com