Former El Paso County swim coach pleads guilty to sexual abuse of a minor

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Walter James Winkler, 48, pleaded guilty this week to sexual abuse of a minor.

DENVER, Colo. — Walter James Winkler, age 48, formerly of El Paso County, Colorado, pled guilty this week to sexual abuse of a minor.

Winkler appeared at the hearing free on bond, which was continued at the hearing’s conclusion. His sentencing is set for September 27.

According to information contained in the plea agreement, 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, all between 1994 and 2018.

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.

Anyone with information about inappropriate sexual contact by Winkler during his coaching career is urged to call the FBI at 303-629-7171.

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