YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A Youngstown man is on his way to prison for raping a young girl he was supposed to have been babysitting.
Zachary Walker, 22, pleaded guilty Monday morning to a half dozen sex charges in front of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge John Durkin. He is accused of repeatedly assaulting a young relative who was just 5 or 6 at the time.
The assault happened four years ago when Walker was 18.
After learning the victim would have testified against him if the case had gone to trial, Walker agreed to take responsibility.
“The victim, as you are aware, did come in and went through a competency hearing, was competent to testify and was fully prepared to testify,” said Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa.
Walker tearfully apologized for what he did in court, telling the judge he was sorry.
“I didn’t mean for any of this to happen, I didn’t,” Walker said. “I take full responsibility on this. It’s my fault.”
The victim’s mother told Judge Durkin that only God will truly be able to forgive the defendant.
“The things that he took away from her are things that I can never give back. As her mother, it was my job to protect her and keep her safe,” the victim’s mother said. “I am thankful to the Lord Zach has finally admitted his guilt. Through that, my daughter, my family and myself can finally begin to have some healing start.”
Although Judge Durkin sentenced Walker to 16 years in prison, he could have received life behind bars without parole had he been convicted on the original charge of forcible rape of a child. When he is released, Walker will be required to report as a Tier 3 sex offender every 90 days for the rest of his life.