Former Columbia school aide loses appeal on sex abuse conviction

Maryland's top court upheld the convictions this week of Karl Marshall Walker Jr. a former Columbia elementary school worker whose love letters to an 8-year-old girl at the school led to precedent-setting convictions on charges of sexual abuse of a minor and attempted sexual abuse of a minor.

Walker acknowledged that his behavior was inappropriate, but maintained that he neither molested nor sexually exploited the girl, nor had he tried to, and his lawyers said he was the first person in the state to be convicted of sexual abuse without evidence of physical sexual contact.

"Creepy but not criminal" was how one Court of Appeals judge summarized the defense position when Walker's appeal was argued in April. Prosecutors maintained Walker's actions fit the definition of exploiting the child, and a Howard County judge agreed, noting a sexual nature to some of the letters.

Walker was an aide at Bryant Woods Elementary School when he was accused in 2010 of sending the student notes that described fantasies about kissing and waking up with her, and writing "I am totally in love with you," according to prosecutors. Convicted in 2011, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.

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