NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A local pastor has been charged in six cases of sexual assault against a minor who was a member of his church and its choir.
“It’s always crowded, always crowded. There are about 30 to 40 cars be up in here and people, they got a van. The van across the street pick people up. I mean, they did a lot of good things. My man just made a hell of a mistake,” said Anwar Zaheer, who lives near the Walk of Faith Church of Christ in New Haven.
Fifty-nine-year-old Walter Williams is accused of having as many as six sexual encounters with a minor between July 2015 and April 2016.
Police began their investigation when the victim’s mother learned of her daughter’s relationship with Williams through messages she read on the victim’s phone.
The victim, now 16, told police Williams first expressed interest in her a few years ago at a Memorial Day Picnic. Court documents say that’s when Williams began “texting and calling her complimenting her on her body shape and physical appearance.”
The victim met with police and described her six alleged encounters with Williams. The first is alleged to have occurred the day prior to a relative’s birthday party at Williams’ home in Northford. The second alleged encounter happened a month or so later when the victim claims Williams summoned her to his office at the Walk of Faith Church of Christ on Fairmont Avenue in New Haven. The third was alleged to have taken place when Williams had the victim accompany him on a rent collection errand at one of his residential properties. The property was reportedly vacant. The fourth alleged incident was similar to the third. The fifth allegedly took place at Williams’ home and the sixth, again at the church.
Last month, the victim’s mother told New Haven detectives she saw a graphically disturbing Facebook message allegedly sent by Williams to the victim.
Williams was interviewed by New Haven Police on July 7th. Police say Williams admitted to “five or six” sexual encounters with the victim, ranging from touching and kissing to sexual intercourse.
According to the church’s website, Williams founded the church in 1986. He is married and has six children and four grandchildren. On the website, a biography says Williams “attributes his teaching in ethics, morality, hard work, character and integrity to his parents.”
On Monday, Williams was arrested and charged with sexual assault in the fourth degree, five counts of sexual assault in the second degree and three counts of risk of injury to a minor.
He was held on a $250,000 bond and appeared in court Tuesday morning.