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Rape suspect let out of jail for wedding

LAWRENCEVILLE - After nearly two months in the Gwinnett County Jail, John Luke Walker's taste of freedom this weekend will be short-lived.

Walker, 17, a Brookwood High School student and football player, is charged with raping and molesting a 14-year-old girl after a party in February. He has remained in general population at the jail since he was pulled from the Brookwood High cafeteria by Sheriff's Deputies and arrested March 5.

In an unusual move for prosecutors, Walker was allowed a temporary reprieve from jail Thursday to attend his sister's wedding, said Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney David Fife.

Certain restrictions apply to the deal. Walker is not allowed to leave the premises of a hotel where the wedding is being held. He must be constantly supervised by his parents, and he must be returned to jail after the wedding this weekend, Fife said.

Fife called the deal "a good exchange," in that Walker acted favorably for prosecutors when he waived his chance at a bond hearing in March. Walker's attorney has not filed for a new bond hearing in Gwinnett Superior Court, he said.

"We wouldn't just do it for no reason," Fife said. "We've talked to the victim's family, and they're OK with it."

Fife was unsure if the wedding will be held in Gwinnett.

Walker's attorney, B.J. Bernstein, declined comment Friday.

Walker's family has repeatedly called charges against him bogus. Bernstein has called the incident typical teen behavior overblown by the alleged victim.

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.

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

A Gwinnett Grand Jury should hear Walker's case in about a month, when they'll decide whether to indict him or not. Because Walker has not been allowed bond, prosecutors have 90 days from the date of his arrest to present the case, Fife said.

A Gwinnett police detective is expected to submit reports to the District Attorney's office next week.

"That's what we've been waiting on," Fife said.