A Pelican Bay Correctional Officer is in Del Norte County Jail facing a long list of sexual charges for alleged offenses going back over many years.
Sheriff’s Cmdr. Bill Steven said detectives arrested Aaron Wade Walker, 37, on March 10, while he was working as a correctional officer at Pelican Bay State Prison after an unnamed victim provided information about alleged sexual abuse that “had been going on for decades.”
Steven said detectives opened an investigation, which later culminated in Walker’s arrest.
The list of charges forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office is long and Steven said some go back to when the victim was a minor.
According to Steven, detectives are saying the investigation is still in the early stages as they work to determine what happened and if there are any other victims.
District Attorney Katherine Micks said If further evidence comes to light, the prosecution has several options, including filing an amendment to the case or charging a separate case.
Walker was arraigned 2 p.m. Tuesday and he remains in jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
The list of charges began in 2001, with offense dates listed for each. They are:
•Two counts of oral copulation and a special allegation in 2001 and 2002.
•Two counts of forcible rape and a special allegation in 2001 and 2002.
•Two counts of sodomy by use of force and a special allegation in 2001 and 2002.
•Forcible rape and a special allegation in 2007.
•Rape by use of drugs and a special allegation in 2007.
• Rape of an unconscious person and a special allegation in 2007.
Special allegations, if proven in court along with the charges, add time to a defendant’s prison sentence.
According to a case summary provided by Del Norte Superior Court, Judge Robert Cochrane recused himself from the case, placing the case in Judge Darren McElfresh’s court. If for some reason McElfresh should recuse himself, the case will go before a judicial council for assignment of a judge.
Possibly complicating the matter is that Walker appears to be “friends” with local law enforcement officials and prison personnel on social media. Walker’s friend list includes Sheriff Erik Apperson, DA’s Investigator A.C. Fields and DA Micks.
Micks said a conflict of interest would come to the prosecution in context of a recusal, but said that issue has not been raised yet.
Micks’ “friendship” with Walker was removed as of Tuesday.