Greeley church helper faces up to 66 years in prison for sex assaults on 3 girls

Greeley Tribune [Greeley CO]

April 23, 2024

By Chris Bolin

A former helper with a Greeley church faces up to 66 years in prison after he was convicted of six felony sex crimes against minors from 2015 to 2018.

Ryan Walters, 30, was found guilty April 10 of five counts of sexual assault on a child, pattern of abuse; and one count of sexual assault of a child in a position of trust, following a nine-day trial, according to Colorado Court records.

Each of the five pattern-of-abuse counts carries a sentence of four to 12 years. The position of trust charge carries a sentence of two to six years. He has a sentencing hearing on June 6 in front of Judge Timothy Kerns in Weld District Court..

Police first learned of Walters’ abuse in February 2022, when someone called to report him on behalf of one of the victims. On March 3 of the same year, police met with the first victim.

She told them Walters touched her inappropriately while on the way home from a church youth group event in Fort Collins. She was the last one to be dropped off, when Walters turned toward her and started touching her, according to the affidavit.

He first lifted her shirt before putting his hand down her shorts and eventually putting his fingers inside her, according to the affidavit.

Police say she told them Walters was a chaperone of the youth group and that it was her first youth group event she had attended.

She said it was August of either 2015 or 2016 and that she was 10 or 11 years old at the time but couldn’t remember exactly, according to the affidavit. She added that Walters would’ve been about 21 at the time.

She said she knew Walters since she was 5 years old and told police she trusted him, according to the affidavit.

During that investigation, police learned of two additional victims. On March 18, 2022, police met with another victim.

That victim said she began talking with Walters in 2016 when she was 15 but that the relationship didn’t become serious until she was 16 or 17, according to the affidavit. Police say she considered the relationship consensual.

She too met Walters at church, describing him as a helper with the youth group.

Police say she told them she went to Walters’ apartment in Evans at one point when she was 15. She said they had intercourse but that she didn’t remember what led up to it.

After that day, she told police Walters stopped talking to her for a while.

She said they rekindled the relationship a year or two later, again having intercourse. She said the incidents happened at several different houses in which Walters lived, first in Greeley, then Evans and finally in Johnstown, according to the affidavit. By the time Walters moved to Johnstown, police say the victim was 18 or 19.

Police say they found addresses associated with Walters that met the descriptions the victim gave in Evans and Johnstown but that they couldn’t find a matching Greeley address.

On March 29, 2022, police met with the third victim.

She said her relationship with Walters began in 2016, when she was 15 and Walters was 21, but that nothing sexual happened until she was 17, according to the affidavit. She said the relationship began with text messages and notes written to each other — mostly about how they wanted to be together.

She said the first assault happened in May 2017, when she was at Walters’ house doing activities to raise money for the church so she could attend summer camp.

The victim said that once they finished the activities, her brother and Walters’ sister walked to a gas station. Police say that was when Walters told the victim he wanted to have sex with her.

She told him she wasn’t ready to have sex, according to the affidavit, but Walters said he wouldn’t use any of the money to send her to summer camp if she didn’t have sex with him. The victim told police she felt Walters blackmailed her into having sex with him.

She said there were at least four other assaults, all at church in Greeley in 2017 and 2018. Walters would ask her to go to the bathroom so they could talk, according to the affidavit.

She said there was a trash can between the men’s and women’s bathrooms. When Walters would remove the trash can, it left an opening between the two rooms through which Walters could touch her. Walters touched her breasts and vagina during different incidents in the bathroom, according to the affidavit.

She said she told him on multiple occasions that she didn’t want him to touch her but that he did it anyway, according to the affidavit. She added that Walters told her not to tell anyone about their relationship when they first started talking when she was 15.

Evans police do not believe there are any additional victims in the case, but they ask anyone who may have been victimized and is ready to come forward to contact officer Jon Trahan at 970-339-2441.