A Wake County judge lowered the bond of former Raleigh swim coach charged with child sex crimes.
Nicholas John Walkotten, 32, faces one count of indecent liberties with a child and four counts statutory sex offense with a child under or equal to the age of 15.
Walkotten initially received a $2 million bond, but a Wake County judge reduced it to $1.5 million Friday afternoon. Walkotten is also not allowed to have contact with the victim, nor any minor without supervision, per the judge’s orders.
Walkotten’s mother and wife were in court Friday when his attorney asked for bond to be reduced, saying Walkotten has no criminal history, is a decorated swimmer, and has a two-week-old child.
Wake County assistant district attorney Katy Pomeroy said given the nature of the charges, she felt the bond was too low.
Pomeroy said investigators have obtained a confession, photo evidence, and text messages between Walkotten and the victim.
Pomeroy also said there were concerns Walkotten could try to destroy evidence.
“There is a text message chain between the victim and this defendant in which he does encourage her to delete a lot of their correspondence,” Pomeroy said.
The prosecutor also cited concerns about Walkotten’s access to other children.
Raleigh police said the investigation into Walkotten is ongoing, which could include the possibility of identifying more victims.
According to warrants, the crimes happened on-or-between June 1 and August 1. In court Friday, Walkotten’s attorney said the charges stem from one date in particular.
Walkotten was arrested at a Raleigh police station Thursday.
He served as a coach with the Marlins of Raleigh for nearly three years until he was fired Aug. 2, according to the swim club’s head coach.
Walkotten also spent time in 2014 as a coach for UNCW, according to school records.
The head coach of the Marlins of Raleigh said as soon as he learned about the allegations earlier this month, Walkotten was fired, and the US Center for SafeSport was notified.
SafeSport is a non-profit designated by Congress to eliminate abuse and sexual assault within sports. It’s online database shows Walkotten received an interim suspension for misconduct on Aug. 2.
Katie Hanna, the director of education and outreach at U.S. Center for SafeSport says the organization investigates allegations of sexual misconduct within the 50 national sport governing bodies recognized by the US Olympic committee, such as USA gymnastics and USA swimming.
“If you are one of these members, under one of that national governing bodies, you are required to report any suspected child abuse within 24 hours to local law enforcement, as well as to the US Center for Safe Sport,” Hanna said.
Since launching in 2017, Hanna said SafeSport has received 1,200 reports of sexual misconduct, bullying, harassment, or hazing.
Hanna said SafeSport has policies coaches must follow pertaining to their interactions with young athletes.
“Things like individual coaches not texting or friending their athletes individually on social media. Not offering to give an athlete, an individual minor athlete, a car ride home,” Hanna said.
Executive director for SAFEchild NC, Cristin DeRonja, said parents should take notice when a relationship between a child and a coach crosses a line.
“You really should be mindful of any other activity, interaction, or behavior — whether it’s in person, whether it’s through the phone, whether it’s through social media — that seems to be spilling outside of the scope of the reason why your child is involved with that coach in the first place,” DeRonja said.
DeRonja said if a parent suspects their child may have been around a person of concern, they should talk with them in a calm reassuring manner.
“You may say to your child, ‘Sally, I’m concerned about the amount of times you’re getting a text from your coach. Tell me more about that.’ So you’re stating your concern, but you’re openly saying, ‘Tell me more about that,’ and you’re allowing the child to take the lead on the conversation,” DeRonja said.
She also said it’s important to encourage children to talk openly with their parents not only about relationships that make them uncomfortable, but also situations where they feel confused.
“There’s very often that children feel confused because sometimes attention and relationships create pleasant emotions, but they still may not be an appropriate person or an appropriate relationship to be involved in,” she said.
DeRonja encourages parents to ask questions before signing their child up for any team or camp to ask what kind of background checks, training, and policies are in place for their coaches and staff.