LAUREL COUNTY - Two former South Laurel High School employees facing sexual abuse charges involving minors had future pretrial conferences scheduled in Laurel County Circuit Court Wednesday morning.
Jonathan Lee Walker, 32, a former basketball coach at South Laurel, had a final pretrial conference scheduled for January 13.
Walker has had numerous jury trial dates scheduled throughout the duration of his case, however as his attorney, Conrad Cessna, explained to the court, both he and the Commonwealth have asked for continuations in the past.
“We’d like to resolve the matter. We’ve known for some time it was going to have to be tried,” Cessna said to Judge Michael Caperton. “So we’re just asking for the first available trial date.”
Because of the unpredictability of the coronavirus and not being sure that a trial can be held, a trial date was not scheduled for Walker. However, if social-distancing restrictions on the courts have been eased by then, a trial could be scheduled for February during Walker’s final pretrial conference in January.
Walker was indicted in February 2019 by a Laurel County grand jury on a single charge of first-degree sexual abuse.
According to the indictment, Walker used his position of authority or special trust to subject a minor to sexual contact. The indictment also indicated that the victim was 16 years old at the time of the incident in 2018.
Walker came under investigation by the London Police Department in November 2018 and resigned from his coaching position at SLHS Nov. 19, 2018. He had held the position since being hired in 2016.
Mark A. Felts, the former choir director at SLHS, also had a future pre-trial conference scheduled Wednesday.
Commonwealth Attorney Jackie Steele said he had spoken with Felts’ attorney earlier in the day, and that both agreed on a pretrial conference date in December.
Judge Caperton granted both side’s request and scheduled a future pre-trial conference for December 16.
The former choir director is currently charged with six counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of third-degree sodomy.
Felts was initially indicted on one count of third-degree sodomy in August of last year, but after another claim of inappropriate sexual behavior was filed against him, he was indicted again. The indictment was changed to include claims of both victims in October 2019.
Felts posted a $25,000 cash bond a few days following the initial indictment in August 2019.
The sodomy charge resulted from the claim that Felts engaged in sexual intercourse with a minor in spring 2017.
The sexual abuse charges involved a victim who was just a few weeks from turning 15 years old when the incidents took place. The indictment lists those occasions as March and November of 2015, January and October 2016, and twice in February 2017.
Felts retired from SLHS in February 2019 ending his 29-year teaching career at the school.