Key witness in trial of ex-school official arrested in peeping
The key witness in the 2007 Internet luring case against former Grand Junction High School administrator Johnnie Walker has been arrested on allegations he planted a video camera in a Texas high school boys bathroom.
Television stations in San Antonio reported this week that 37-year-old Jason Steitle as an athletic trainer at Burbank High School resigned after the camera was discovered in the ceiling of a gym bathroom. Quoting a school district spokeswoman, WOAI reported that Steitle admitted to setting up the camera but claimed he did so in an effort to catch someone who had spray-painted graffiti in the bathroom.
Walker’s attorney, Colleen Scissors, said Friday she will seek to throw out Walker’s conviction as a result of the allegations against Steitle.
“I’m just thrilled because I’ve always thought there was something amiss with that guy,” she said, referring to Steitle.
Walker, now 53, was the activities director for Grand Junction High School and a 17-year employee of School District 51 when he was arrested in 2007 after allegations surfaced that he used a school-issued laptop computer for sex-driven Internet chats with a person he believed to be a 14-year-old girl from Colorado Springs.
Instead, Walker was chatting with Steitle, who kept the chat logs and mailed them to Grand Valley law-enforcement agencies and media.
A jury in 2009 convicted Walker of felony counts of attempted Internet luring of a child and attempted child enticement. He was sentenced to 10 years to life on probation and had to register as a sex offender.
Walker now lives on the Front Range.
He appealed his conviction, and the case is pending before the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Scissors argued during the trial that Walker thought he was chatting with his ex-girlfriend. She also questioned Steitle’s motives for getting involved with Walker and pointed to testimony from a computer expert suggesting Internet chat logs can be altered after the fact.
Deputy District Attorney David Waite criticized Scissors’ strategy after Walker was convicted.
“I think pulling his ex-girlfriend into this was offensive, and attacking Jason Steitle, who really was out trying to do something good, was also kind of offensive,” Waite said at the time.
Scissors said the case always has caused her angst. She said while Steitle appeared to be a “really nice high school teacher and a Good Samaritan,” she thought there was something odd about him but couldn’t disprove his allegations against Walker. She said Walker long contended the chat logs reflected a different conversation than the one he had.
“I think, for Johnnie, it’s huge,” she said of Steitle’s arrest. “It’s newly discovered evidence we can use to go back into court and say, ‘This guy (Steitle) was a liar.’”