TEXARKANA, AR (KSLA) - A former youth baseball coach and umpire associated with the Texarkana Arkansas Baseball Association is under investigation for alleged child molestation.
Texarkana, Arkansas Police Chief Robert Harrison took the unusual step Monday of identifying 61-year-old Walter "Richard" Roberts as a suspect, even though no formal charges have been filed.
"If there were any doubt in our mind that this individual even slightly was not responsible for this criminal conduct, we would not be releasing his name," Harrison explains. "In the interest of public safety, I feel like it's my responsibility to let the citizens of this city know that there is an individual that has been involved in criminal misconduct involving juveniles."
Police say they began investigating in early February after one of those victims came forward because of all the attention surrounding the sex abuse scandal involving former Penn State University football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
According to police records, victims described Roberts as a "touchy feely" kind of coach who established relationships with them outside of Texarkana youth baseball, which resulted in him visiting them at their homes when their parents were not present. Police say "consistent allegations" have been made by four victims of sexual assault. The victims ranged in age from 9 to 14 at the time of the alleged assaults.
The alleged abuse is believed to have begun in the early 80s, continuing through 1992, but the statute of limitations has run out for the victims in those cases. The statute of limitations for victims in Arkansas ranges from six or 15 years, depending on the evidence in the case.
Now, investigators are hoping other more recent victims will come forward, in hopes that they can bring charges. "We believe there are other victims who have not come forward," says Chief Harrison.
Police have searched Robert's home, but have not released any details on what was found there.
Texarkana Arkansas Baseball Association President Ed Lavender says Roberts is no longer a coach in their association.
Individuals with information or those who wish to come forward are urged to contact Texarkana, AR police detectives at (903) 798-3154.