Zachary A. Walker, a 22-year-old man from Girard, Ohio, pleaded guilty in a Youngstown courtroom on June 16 to raping a little girl from the time she was five until she was seven, according to June 17 report from WFMJ. Walker admitted to raping the little girl, a relative that he was babysitting, from 2010 through 2012. Walker first began raping the child when he was 18 years old.
After pleading guilty to three counts of rape and another three counts of gross sexual imposition, the judge in the case sentenced Walker to 16 years in prison, according to The Vindicator. Due to the age of the little girl, Walker faced a possible sentence of life behind bars without the possibility of parole - had he been convicted on his original charge of forcible rape of a child.
Walker had a jury trial scheduled to begin on Monday. But his guilty pleas and sentencing were overseen by the judge instead. Walker was all ready to go to trial until he found out that his young victim would be testifying against him, which prompted him to plead guilty to all charges.
According to WKBN, the Assistant Prosecutor for Mahoning County, Dawn Cantalamessa, told Walker in court on Monday that “The victim, as you are aware, did come in and went through a competency hearing, was competent to testify and was fully prepared to testify.” Prior to his sentencing, Walker faced the court, shed a few tears and apologized to the court and to the judge, saying ““I didn’t mean for any of this to happen, I didn’t.” Walker added:
“I take full responsibility on this. It’s my fault.”
The young victim’s mother is grateful that Walker admitted his guilt and assumed responsibility for his actions, but stopped short of absolving and forgiving the convicted child rapist and once trusted relative and babysitter. Speaking to the judge in the case, the victim’s mother added that “only God will truly be able to forgive the defendant.”
“The things that he took away from her are things that I can never give back. As her mother, it was my job to protect her and keep her safe,” the victim’s mother said.
While awaiting trial, Walker had been a resident of the Mahoning County Jail. After his sentence has been served and upon his release from prison, Walker will be required “to report as a Tier 3 sex offender every 90 days for the rest of his life.”