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Brookwood student freed from jail after plea deal

LAWRENCEVILLE - John Luke Walker's controversial stint at the Gwinnett County Jail ended before dawn Thursday.

The former Brookwood High School student-athlete, jailed on child molestation charges much of last year, was freed about 5:30 a.m., exactly one year since he was pulled from a school cafeteria and arrested.

Walker, who turned 18 in jail last year, struck a plea deal with prosecutors the day after Thanksgiving, sparing him a potential sentence of more than two decades.

Prosecutors say Walker forced a 14-year-old girl into having sex following a party last February. He pleaded guilty to statutory rape, reckless conduct and contributing to the delinquency of a minor - all of which are misdemeanors based on the ages of Walker, 17, and the victim at the time.

Prosecutors agreed to the lesser charges when evidence failed to materialize that the girl with whom Walker had sex suffered physical injuries. A judge sentenced Walker to a year in jail, followed by probation and alcohol and drug evaluations and treatment.

Walker's attorney, B.J. Bernstein, did not return a request for comment. His family has repeatedly declined interviews.

The misconduct happened Feb. 17 at a home on Fawnbrook Court in Lilburn, where police later found the girl unconscious. Walker, a former backup football player, was reportedly dog-sitting for the home's owners, who were out of town.

By pleading guilty to the misdemeanors, Walker freed himself from having to register as a sex offender upon his release. He'll likely finish high school somewhere other than Brookwood, his attorney has said.