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Attorney downplays charges in rape case

LAWRENCEVILLE - Attorney B.J. Bernstein downplayed charges Friday against her client John Luke Walker, a regular "acne-faced Southern teenager" who faces 25 years in prison for doing what teens do, she said.

Police have charged the 17-year-old Brookwood High School student and football player with rape and child molestation, alleging he forced a 14-year-old girl into sexual acts on Feb. 17.

Police have also charged his buddy, former Brookwood football player David Vickery, 19, with three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor.

Bernstein said her client could remain in the Gwinnett County Jail until a preliminary hearing next Friday afternoon. He was arrested at school Wednesday without incident, a Sheriff's Department spokesperson said.

The attorney said Walker's family is distraught over the allegations, living "every parent's worst nightmare."

"This is just a really nice family who is now seeing their son's photograph shown to the world that he's some sort of rapist," Bernstein said. "The reality is that he's done some teenage things that are not felonies."

Bernstein declined to discuss Walker's relationship with the alleged victim. If convicted of rape, Walker would serve a minimum 25-year sentence and be required to register as a sex offender for life, she said.

The allegations stem from a teenage party on Feb. 17.

Police said Vickery gave the alleged victim and two of her friends a ride to a party on Barnsley Walk in Snellville, where they met with Walker. The teens later drove to a home on Fawnbrook Court in Lilburn. Walker was caring for the owner's dogs while they were out of town, and he let the teens in, police said.

A worried neighbor called police to report the teens as prowlers. When police arrived, Vickery and Walker ran away, police said.

Police found the 14-year-old girl unconscious inside the home and sent her for treatment at an area hospital, said Gwinnett police spokesman Officer David Schiralli.

"It's an active investigation," Schiralli said. "I can't discuss how she became unconscious."

Interviews with the teen led police to Walker and Vickery, Schiralli said.

Vickery - a former offensive and defensive lineman at Brookwood - posted a $1,750 bond and was released from jail Thursday.

Meanwhile, Walker is charged with lying to investigators in written and oral statements he provided last month, in addition to rape and child molestation.

Brookwood head football coach Mark Crews said Walker made both the offensive and defensive squads for the Broncos last year but didn't play much. The junior steered clear of trouble and worked hard, his coach said.

Bernstein, his attorney, represented Genarlow Wilson in his infamous child molestation case. The Georgia teen served three years in prison for having consentual sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.

"These are just allegations," Bernstein said. "The family begs you to not prejudge. We hope John can go back to school to be the young man he was becoming."