Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 15, 2010

Janitor pleads guilty to felonies

Lucas solicited naked images, stalked teens

Traverse City — A Traverse City high school janitor told a judge he solicited naked images of a male student over the Internet, then stalked the teen and his girlfriend.

Walter Edward "Wally" Lucas, 40, pleaded guilty Friday in 13th Circuit Court to two counts of possessing child sexually abusive material and a count of stalking a minor — both felonies. Judge Thomas G. Power plans to dismiss five counts of child sexually abusive activity and a count of using computers to commit a crime as part of a plea agreement.

Lucas' sentencing is slated for June 11 in 13th Circuit Court, and Power denied a bond request from his attorney, Mike Stepka.

Lucas worked as a janitor for the Traverse City Area Public Schools since 1997, but for the past few years primarily worked at Central High School. The school district placed him on unpaid suspension in February before criminal charges were filed, and fired him a month later, said Christine Davis, TCAPS human resources director.

The criminal charges stem from Lucas' Internet conversations with a former Central High School student. Lucas created a phony Internet account, and posed as a female teenager to attract the male teen's attention.

"I pretended to be a girl and had (the youth) send me nude photos of himself," Lucas said Friday.

Investigators searched Lucas' computer and said they found two nude videos of the youth, and several photos of him posing nude. Lucas told Power that he had about 25 nude pictures of the youth on his computer.

The male teen cut conversation ties with Lucas' online persona once he began dating a fellow classmate. His girlfriend's family then received dozens of harassing phone calls, during which the caller would swear and hang up, or demand the girl stay away from the male teen.

"I called there and disguised my voice and my number," Lucas said. "I just said to stay away from (the youth). I was jealous, I guess."

Lucas said he called her about 200 times and drove past her house.

The couple saw Lucas more often as their relationship ensued, but neither knew the janitor was behind the phony Internet account, police reports show. He allegedly followed the male teen into a local retailer's bathroom in February.

Lucas called or sent text messages to the male teen as many as 50 times a day, and continued to threaten his girlfriend if he didn't break up with her. The girl's mother eventually contacted authorities, which led to Lucas' arrest.

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