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November 07, 2022

Former Chester County football coach sexually abused girl, prosectors say

Kenneth Walls, 77, recently volunteered as a coach for Downingtown West's football team after previously being on its staff

Investigations Sexual Abuse
Chester County Football Coach Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Kenneth Walls, 77, a former football coach at Downingtown West High School, allegedly sexually assaulted a girl, who is now 12, on multiple occasions between 2020 and earlier this year, Chester County District Attorney Deborah Ryan says.

A former football coach at Downingtown West High School in Chester County repeatedly sexually assaulted a girl, who is now 12, from 2020 until earlier this year, prosecutors said Friday. 

Kenneth Walls, 77, assaulted the girl multiple times at his home on Higgins Circle in Downingtown, prosecutors said. On Thursday, the girl told a mandated reporter at her school in a nearby county, which was unnamed by prosecutors, about the alleged assaults. 

A preliminary investigation found that that the girl sometimes stayed at Walls' home and that he bought her a cell phone, hoverboard and ear pods. He allegedly texted and called her multiple times each week. The girl also told detectives that Walls took her out for meals, shopping and to carnivals and fairs, prosecutors said.

"The child victim in this case showed tremendous courage by telling a mandated reporter at her school about this awful abuse," District Attorney Deborah Ryan said. "The defendant engaged in a common pattern of child predators: he lavished the child with gifts, took her shopping and made her feel special. In fact, he was grooming her and her family by duping them into thinking he was a kind and generous man." 

When interviewed by detectives, Walls admitted to sexually assaulting the girl, KYW reported. The girl told told police that Walls had a pair of her underwear on his pillow and another pair in his bedroom dresser drawer, the Daily Local reported, citing charging documents. 

Walls, who once had been on the Downingtown West football team's staff, had recently served as a volunteer coach, prosecutors said. 

Robert O'Donnell, superintendent of the Downingtown Area School District, said parents entrust the district with keeping their children safe each time they send them to school. 

"As a district, we take that responsibility seriously and will continue to work with our staff, students, families, law enforcement and community to maintain a safe educational environment for all children," O'Donnell said.

Walls has been charged with multiple counts of aggravated indecent assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and related offenses, prosecutors said. He is being held at Chester County Prison on $100,000 cash bail. A preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 16. 

Anyone who suspects a child is being abused is urged to call Pennsylvania's ChildLine at (800) 932-0313. Chester County is holding several Stewards of Children workshops to help residents learn to recognize, respond to, and report child sexual abuse. Those interested in attending can contact County Coordinator Elisa Mendoza at (610) 344-5576 for more information.