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Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 3:22 am | Fair 48º


Girl, 15, Testifies About Rape in Officials’ Trial

St. Joseph student says she told dean about assault but he did not report it to authorities

A 15-year-old alleged rape victim testified Tuesday that former St. Joseph High School Dean of Students John Walker knew she had been sexually assaulted but did not report the incident to the Sheriff’s Department.

Through tearful, often broken testimony, the teen, who was 14 at the time of the alleged assault, and her parents told the jury in Superior Court in Santa Maria that Walker did not report the incident, but suggested the family contact authorities.

Walker and Joe Myers, the Orcutt Catholic high school’s principal, were charged July 12 with failing to report a suspected sexual assault on a 16-year-old student by two other students.

Myers and Walker, who are “mandated reporters” under state law because of their positions of responsibility with the school, failed to immediately report the suspected sexual assault to law enforcement as required, according to Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office prosecutors.

Walker, who was let go from his position at St. Joseph for undisclosed reasons, also faces a second count of the same charge because prosecutors allege he did not report the 14-year-old student’s allegations of sexual assault.

Shane Villalpando, 18, a former St. Joseph student who graduated from Righetti High School in June, was arrested April 20 on rape and other charges in connection with the case.

Villalpando is also connected as a suspect in the 16-year-old victim’s case. A juvenile, whose name is being withheld, has been charged in that case as well.

On the second day of the school officials’ trial, the now 15-year-old girl and her parents testified that Walker had known about the assaults against both girls.

The victim’s complaint alleges Villalpando raped her on multiple occasions between Jan. 28 and Feb. 11, and then tried to prevent or dissuade her from reporting the incidents to law enforcement.

Her parents said they found out their daughter was having sex from her diary in March, and didn’t know it was forced until her admission on April 1.

Shane Villalpando
Shane Villalpando

“There’s not a lot of preparation for this kind of thing,” the victim’s father said, his voice cracking on the stand as he recalled the emotional conversation.

Both parents spoke with Walker, who did not report the incidents but told them about Villalpando’s first alleged victim.

Walker nodded today as the parents said Walker set up a meeting between the two victims and then both the families.

The younger victim said she and the fellow student victim decided to file charges to prevent another girl from going through the ordeal.

DA investigator Marisa Tanori talked about her initial meeting with Walker and another detective.

A 23-minute video excerpt of the two-hour interview was played for the jury, who also read from a transcript.

In it, Walker recounted conversations with the victims, the accused and their families.

He said he knows from public school teaching that reporting is mandatory, but he wasn’t familiar with St. Joseph’s policy, or if they had one.

“I’ve always been taught to report right away,” Walker said in the video interview, noting that Myers first told him about the assaults. “I do what my boss tells me to do. I don’t want to undermine my boss and lose my job. Because I didn’t want to get fired.”

The charges against Walker and Myers, who was put on paid administrative leave pending resolution of the matter, each carry up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine upon conviction.

The officials’ trial is back in court Thursday and will likely continue into next week.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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