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Tooele teacher charged with sex abuse of former athlete

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Kayla Lee Walker, 58, is charged in 8th District Court with 21 felonies related to the sexual abuse of a woman who was one of her high school athletes at Union High School in the late '70s and early '80s.

Kayla Lee Walker, 58, is charged in 8th District Court with 21 felonies related to the sexual abuse of a woman who was one of her high school athletes at Union High School in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

Uintah Basin Standard file photo

ROOSEVELT — A teacher at a Tooele County school for troubled girls has been charged with sexually abusing one of her athletes when she coached at a Duchesne County high school three decades ago.

Kayla Lee Walker, who was inducted into the Utah High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006, was taken into custody Thursday on a $330,000 arrest warrant. Walker, 58, is charged in 8th District Court with 10 counts of forcible sodomy, a first-degree felony; two counts of object rape, a first-degree felony; and nine counts of forcible sex abuse, a second-degree felony.

Roosevelt police were contacted in August by a Davis County woman who told them Walker had sexually abused her. The woman said she was 16 years old when she was introduced to Walker in September 1978 at Union High School and that they spent "numerous hours together before, during and after school, often well into the evening talking about gymnastics and life in general," charging documents state.

The woman said the alleged sexual abuse began in early 1979 after she suffered an injury during practice. She told officers that Walker invited her to her home "to help her with her injury" and had the woman undress partially to massage her shoulder and back. During the massage, Walker touched the woman's breasts, the charges state.

The abuse continued over several months in 1979 and 1980, the charges state, escalating to the point where Walker would insist on sharing a room when the two traveled to out of town gymnastics meets, the woman said. Walker would also show up at the woman's home when her mother was away and sleep in the woman's bed with her, according to the charges.

"(The woman) said she and Walker slept together in her bed at least two times a week for approximately 10 months until she turned 18 years of age," the charges state, noting that the pair engaged in sexual activity during those encounters "at least 50 times."

The woman told investigators she felt "saddened and ashamed" because of the abuse and reported it to her LDS bishop at the time. The former bishop confirmed to police, when he was interviewed last month, that the woman had disclosed the alleged abuse to him.

"He suspected a sexual relationship between (the woman) and Coach Walker before he interviewed (the woman)," the charges state, adding that the bishop also interviewed Walker when he was initially informed of the abuse.

"I don't know what the church's reporting policy was in the 1970s specifically," said Scott Trotter, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "But I can say that the church has zero-tolerance for abuse of any kind and for many years has had policies in place to prevent abuse, or to make sure it is reported to proper authorities and that victims receive the help they need if it occurs."

Walker, who coached gymnastics, girls basketball and volleyball at Union, winning a combined four state titles, is on the academic staff at Alpine Academy in Erda, Tooele County. She teaches health and physical fitness classes, according to the school's website.

Alpine Academy director of operations Corrie Norman said Walker has taught at the school for "a couple years and has been nothing but a fantastic teacher and employee for us."

"Our understanding of the situation is fairly limited," Norman said, adding that the school has not placed Walker on leave.

"For us, this is just a few hours old, so we really haven't made any of those determinations yet," she said.

Walker is being held in the Duchesne County Jail.

e-mail: geoff@ubstandard.com