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Bond in limbo for student
Lawyer backs out of athlete's hearing

LAWRENCEVILLE - John Luke Walker - a Brookwood High School student and football player described as an all-American boy - has been incarcerated for more than a month on rape and child molestation charges his attorney and family have repeatedly called bogus.

Yet last week, Walker's attorney backed out of a bond hearing in Gwinnett Superior Court that could have set him free for the time being, an official said.

Walker's chance for bond will likely be in limbo for at least two more weeks before Superior Court Judge Tom Davis can squeeze it back on his calendar, Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney David Fife said.

Walker's attorney, B.J. Bernstein, withdrew from a bond hearing scheduled Friday in Superior Court, Fife said. She now must refile a motion for another bond hearing in that court, a process that typically takes weeks.

Bernstein did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

Walker has remained in general population at the Gwinnett County Jail since he was pulled from the Brookwood High cafeteria by Sheriff's Deputies and arrested on March 5, said Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Stacey Bourbonnais.

Bernstein - who also represented Georgia teen Genarlow Wilson in his infamous child molestation case - has repeatedly urged the public not to predetermine Walker's guilt. The Lilburn resident is accused of raping and molesting a 14-year-old girl after a party Feb. 17. Bernstein has downplayed the charges, calling the incident typical teen behavior overblown by the alleged victim.

Walker's parents defended their son to media at his first public hearing. They have since declined repeated requests for interviews.

If convicted of rape, Walker would serve a minimum 25-year sentence and be required to register as a sex offender for life.

The teen waived a probable cause hearing last month in Gwinnett Magistrate Court. The case then moved to superior court, which typically handles bond hearings for defendants accused of rape and other felonious crimes.

Walker, a junior, is a backup wide-receiver and defensive back on Brookwood's football team. Investigators said he raped and molested the girl at a home on Fawnbrook Court in Lilburn, where police later found the girl unconscious. Walker was reportedly house-sitting for the home's owners, who were out of town, police said.

It's unclear whether a month in jail has affected Walker's academic standing at Brookwood.

Jorge Quintana, Gwinnett Public Schools spokesman, said time spent in jail is not considered an excused absence on attendance records. But in some cases, students are allowed to complete course work through the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice that keeps them eligible for promotion to the next grade level.

Gwinnett school officials consider each case on an individual basis, Quintana said.

"You would have to look at what month they were placed in jail, what they have completed and what they haven't," Quintana said.

Meanwhile, a Gwinnett Superior Court Judge last month allowed bond for two Berkmar High School football players accused of raping a 15-year-old classmate.

Bobby Michael Harris and Shakie Gus Doe-Williams, both 17, each posted $15,000 bond and were released from jail. They're accused of raping a 15-year-old girl at her home on March 4. Several school officials spoke in defense of the accused teens at a bond hearing in late March.

Doe-Williams is an offensive and defensive lineman on Berkmar's squad, while Harris doubles as a linebacker and offensive lineman.