Girl’s claims put former pro wrestler in jail

SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL—Stephen Ketcher was active in professional wrestling during the 1990s and was still peripherally involved in the sport while driving long-haul trucks, according to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. Ketcher surrendered to authorities in Clay County, Florida, on Wednesday.

Abandoned semitrailer, left western Colorado in February, arrest affidavit says

A professional wrestler turned over-the-road trucker who was wanted by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office in a child sexual assault investigation was arrested Wednesday in Florida.

Stephen “Gatorwolf” Ketcher, 56, surrendered just after noon in the lobby of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office near Jacksonville, Fla., one day after Florida media outlets started reporting information about Ketcher’s wanted status in western Colorado. Ketcher has family in the Jacksonville area.

The Mesa County warrant for Ketcher’s case lists seven counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, in addition to seven counts of sexual assault. Ketcher is accused of seven specific sexual acts with a 15-year-old girl over six months, which ended in February.

The girl disclosed the incidents to her boyfriend in early February, prompting an investigation, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. She explained to an investigator she hadn’t said anything before because Ketcher had threatened to kill himself and “wouldn’t go back to jail,” the affidavit said.

Ketcher was convicted of aggravated assault and violation of a protection order in Utah in 2001 and sentenced to a year in jail.

The affidavit describes multiple alleged incidents of sexual intercourse, oral sex or fondling between Ketcher and the girl. She said there were “many times” he paid her $20 to let him “mess around with my breasts.”

“(Girl) said she did what he said because he was an ex pro wrestler and he was big,” the affidavit said. “She did not describe him threatening her if she did not comply but described him as ‘very manipulative.’ She said he would ‘not stop asking and would bribe me with money and stuff.”

Wrestling under the name Steve Gatorwolf, Ketcher was “Western Region Heavyweight World Champion” in the 1990s, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Ketcher’s career with the former World Wrestling Federation included bouts with Randy “Macho Man” Savage, King Kong Bundy and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, among others, in the 1980s, according to the Internet Wrestling Database.

“He is still known to be involved with putting on camps and promotions, historically in the Utah area,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

Ketcher more recently was an over-the-road trucker, with a primary route between Denver and Ohio.

The affidavit says he was renting an apartment at 702 Putter Lane, just off Horizon Drive.

When contacted by an investigator by phone on Feb. 7, Ketcher said he was “dumbfounded” by the allegations and wanted to talk to his lawyer, who isn’t identified in the affidavit.

“I explained I was attempting to get his side of the story because all I had right now is her side of the story,” an investigator wrote. “At this time, no statement from Stephen is available or likely.”

The Sheriff’s Office said Ketcher was believed to have abandoned his semitrailer and left western Colorado sometime in February. A photo released by the agency to Florida media outlets showed Ketcher at a casino in Orange Park, Fla., in late March.

Ketcher indicated he’s unemployed in booking information released Wednesday by Florida authorities.

His first scheduled court appearance wasn’t immediately confirmed.


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