Former Ark. youth coach pleads guilty to sex charge

Former Ark. youth coach pleads guilty to sex charge

A former Arkansas youth baseball coach pled guilty Thursday to a one-count indictment of transporting a minor across state lines with the intent to engage in a sexual activity.

According to court documents, Walter Richard Roberts, 62, engaged in an extensive pattern of sexual assault that spanned several years. He was a coach from 1986 to 1994.

The documents also show that in 1986, Roberts transported two boys, ages nine and ten, from Texarkana, Arkansas to a supply store on the Texas side of Texarkana. There, Roberts parked the van he was driving at the store, had both boys move to the back of the van, and proceeded to sexually assault them.

The ten-year-old victim involved in the 1986 incident had also been assaulted by Roberts when he was nine during a trip to Wright Patman Lake in Texas. Again, the assault took place in the back of Roberts van, according to court documents.

Additionally, Roberts admitted to sexually assaulting a third boy, who was nine or ten years old at the time, during a fishing trip to Beard's Lake in Arkansas in 1988 or 1989. The assault took place while the two traveled on Highway 71.

Roberts faces a maximum of ten years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

Texarkana, Arkansas 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.

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