FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation

07/17/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/18/2019 10:21

Former El Paso County Swim Coach Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse of a Minor

DENVER - Walter James Winkler, age 48, formerly of El Paso County, Colorado, pled guilty this week to sexual abuse of a minor, announced U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn and FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips. The guilty plea was before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer. Winkler appeared at the hearing free on bond, which was continued at the hearing's conclusion. He will be sentenced by Chief Judge Brimmer on September 27, 2019.

According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, between 1994 and 2018, Winkler worked as a youth swimming coach at Fort Carson Army Base in Colorado, Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, and East High School in Wyoming. On November 10, 2017, Swimming authorities received an anonymous online tip which was forwarded to the U.S. Center for SafeSport in Colorado Springs. The tip alleged that Winkler had inappropriate sexual relationships with two minors when he was a coach at Fort Carson in the 1990s.

According to the plea agreement, Winkler first started by making sexual comments to a 12 year old minor and getting 'touchy feely' when he started coaching her. Then one day he asked the girl to stay late after practice. Winkler then sexually assaulted her. There were additional alleged incidents of sexual assault from approximately 1994 through 1998. He also had sex with another girl at the Fort Carson pool during this same time period. The U.S. Center for SafeSport suspended Winkler from coaching on February 21, 2018. He resigned as a high school swimming coach in Cheyenne shortly thereafter.

'Sexual abuse of a minor by a person in a position of trust is a horrific crime that we will pursue aggressively every time,' said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. It is possible there were more victims, perhaps in Colorado or Wyoming. If anyone has information about inappropriate sexual contact by Winkler during his coaching career please call the FBI at 303-629-7171.

This case was investigated by the FBI with support from a number of local law enforcement agencies.