Kyle Walker

Kyle Walker

Stowe’s fire chief has been fired.

Kyle Walker was dismissed from his post Wednesday night nearly a year after he was placed on leave following allegations that he raped a woman several years ago when he was an on-duty Stowe police officer.

Town manager Charles Safford said Wednesday that Walker had been given “performance goals” that included a requirement that he regain public trust in his ability to lead the fire department, and Safford felt Walker had not met that requirement.

Safford, per Stowe’s town charter, has firing and hiring authority for town employees, but he said Walker has five days to appeal his decision to the town selectboard. Safford said if an appeal comes, the selectboard is not required to meet in public, since it will be taking on the role of a de facto jury in the termination.

“We’ve been in a holding pattern for a period of time, and we need to move forward,” Safford said Thursday, when asked why he dismissed Walker. He said his focus is now on making sure the fire department is suitably staffed and operating.

Walker did not immediately return a request for comment.

Walker was fired as a part-time police officer this past spring after a Vermont State Police investigation into allegations that he had sexually assaulted and stalked a woman over a period of years when he was a full-time cop. Prosecutors declined to formally charge Walker on sexual assault, lewd and lascivious conduct and neglect of duty.

Walker admitted to having sex with the woman on numerous occasions, while on duty, but maintained the relationship was consensual, which the alleged victim denied.

Because there were no formal charges levied, Safford allowed Walker to continue as fire chief, even after his alleged victim came forward to the Stowe Reporter with her story, and after relentless pressure for Walker to resign or Safford to fire him.

Becky Gonyea, the executive director of the Morrisville-based domestic and sexual violence prevention and advocacy organization Clarina Howard Nichols Center, said Thursday she was pleased with the outcome.

“We obviously want to thank the town for making the decision to terminate Walker as fire chief,” Gonyea said, “This will allow the town to heal and for a sense of safety and trust to be restored.”

This is a developing story and will be updated. A full story will appear in the print edition of the Stowe Reporter next week.

(7) comments

Worker in the community

I have to say it sounds like the town administrator was given an ultimatum and I think this is an act of coward ness my guess is it was him or Kyle. I’ve heard a lot of good things talking to the people In the town nothing negative and I’m pretty sure the work he put into 2 trucks and paid personnel over the last few months would mean someone respected his thoughts to spend around 2 million dollars. I hope he gets reinstated and if not I hope he sues the town for firing him for no reason. The police report that was done is the proof the town needed Sadly the paper turned it into a almost pornographic article which I also feel is not news. ITS A STORY.

gustaman12

Some points to consider.

The alleged victim came forward 7 years after the alleged assaults occurred.

The state's attorney investigated and declined to press any charges.

No other alleged victims have come forward publicly.

The alleged victim also accused Kyle Walker of arson, unrelated to her case, which was proven untrue. This misapprehension was the catalyst for her assault allegations.

Consensual sexual activity which is later regretted, is not sexual assault.

Stowe Business Owner

Question for you: Do you want police officers engaged in sexual activity while on duty? Assault, or not, it's unacceptable behavior.

Briana

Long overdue! He has repeatedly violated the public's trust by engaging in this behavior while on the job as a Stowe police officer, and has been documented lying to the public about the encounters after the fact (he initially claimed that it was a one-time encounter, then reported later that it was a series of encounters, a very distinct contradiction). As a citizen of the town of Stowe, we need a fire chief we can trust, and Walker has proven through his actions time and time again that he is not to be trusted. The town finally made the right call to prioritize the trust and safety of the citizens of Stowe.

(Edited by staff.)

lcsenecal

How terribly disappointing that some in town want to reduce this to a "he said, she said" and pass judgment on a survivor, rather than focusing on the perpetrator. Disappointing, but unsurprising and far too common. And then people are surprised that women are hesitant to come forward? Mr. Walker chose to violate the public trust he had, first as a police officer and then by lying to the community and his coworkers as fire chief. When faced with the truth coming out, Walker changed his story from "an isolated incident" to admitting his conduct continued for at least 18 months. There was a reason he was immediately fired as a Stowe Police officer - because it was the right thing to do. It's a shame that the community and his survivor had to go through so much to see the right thing done regarding his role as fire chief.

telicash@yahoo.com

I appreciate that the town final made the right decision. Kyle Walker had intercourse while on the job. He lied to the public about the incidents (see May 6th SR article quote “This was an isolated event many years ago. “ compared to “However, this week, he acknowledged there were multiple such events over a long period of time — he told investigators it was a year and a half” in a June 3rd article). He no longer has the trust of many Stowe residents, and the school district has requested he not be on school campuses for non-emergency or personal issues. This is not the profile of an effective Fire Chief. I didn’t feel safe calling the fire department. I do now.

EmilyR

You cannot have consent in a power differentiated relationship. A police car & a police uniform are symbols of power, given to the officers so they can use the power to protect us. In a police car and in a police uniform, an officer is in a position of power. All his or her relationships with members of the public in those moments are power differentiated. And you cannot have consent in a power differentiated relationship.

Therefore, this was not a consensual situation. No one who cannot use the instruments of power responsibly should have power.

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