A former staff member with First United Methodist Church in Durango has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to lure a child through the Internet.
Ian Robert Walker, 24, of Alamosa, was arrested Wednesday on the campus of Adams State College in Alamosa. He was booked into the Alamosa County Jail on suspicion of Internet luring of a child and sexual exploitation of a child. He since has posted bail.
The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, which assisted with the investigation, is seeking possible victims of Internet crimes against children in this region.
From August 2012 until recently, Walker helped lead a Saturday night worship at First United Methodist Church, according to an email sent to members of the church by the Rev. Jeff Huber.
He also worked several years as a church camp counselor in South Fork. Walker lived in Alamosa but commuted to Durango on weekends.
“We are very troubled by these accusations and have agreed to assist law-enforcement officials with their investigation,” Huber wrote.
Walker is suspected of text messaging a Pueblo girl younger than 15 and asking for images from the child as well as sending images to the child. He met the girl while working at the youth camp in South Fork, according to a news release from the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office became involved while investigating another incident involving a La Plata County girl, said Investigator Tonya Golbricht.
In that case, Walker is suspected of trying to get the girl to send him photos, but she didn’t do it, Golbricht said.
The case remains under investigation, and charges in that case may be pending.
The Sheriff’s Office and the Pueblo Police Department served a search warrant at Walker’s home in Alamosa.
The Rev. Marv Vose, district superintendent of the Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Methodist Church, said Walker’s employment with the church ended soon after the church learned of the allegations.
“If we can help in finding other victims or be a part of that healing process, we want to do that,” Vose said during a brief phone interview Thursday.
First United Methodist Church in Durango referred calls to Vose. But Huber wrote a lengthy letter to local members.
In the letter, he said the church takes these types of allegations seriously, “especially since one of our core values is that children and youth are of utmost importance.”
The church requires comprehensive background checks for all employees and works to provide training to all those who are involved in serving young people, he said.
“In light of this situation, we will be reviewing those policies in the days ahead to be sure we are doing our best to create a safe place for our children and youth in this fast-changing world in which we live,” Huber wrote. “At this time, we do not have any information to lead us to believe that any inappropriate action arose out of the work here at First United Methodist Church in Durango.”
The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information pertaining to Walker to contact Golbricht at 382-7019.