VALDOSTA – A Lowndes County judge set a bond for $25,000 for Keith Andrew Walters Wednesday afternoon, but Walters remained in the county jail as of 10 a.m. Thursday, according to authorities.
Walters, the now-former dean of Valdosta State University’s College of Science and Mathematics was arrested and charged with child sex crimes over the weekend, according to authorities.
Walters was charged with three counts of obscene internet contact with a child and one count of sexual exploitation of children using a computer device to seduce, entice or solicit a child, authorities said. Walters was one of 14 people arrested in a joint effort called "Operation Broken Arrow" spanning four days between Feb. 6 to Feb. 9. The suspects communicated online with undercover agents posing as children and traveled to meet them for the purpose of having sex, authorities said.
Richard Carvajal, president of Valdosta State University, told faculty in a Monday meeting that Walters cleared his background check and there were no warning signs.
Hired by VSU in the summer of 2019, Northern Kentucky University, Walters's former place of employment, told The Valdosta Daily Times it never received allegations of inappropriate conduct.
“Keith Walters was a former chair of the university’s Chemistry and Biochemistry department. He voluntarily left the university in June 2019 after accepting a position with Valdosta State University. During his tenure, the university did not receive any allegations of inappropriate conduct,” said Anna Wright, senior director of strategic communications at Northern Kentucky University in a statement.
In accordance with the University System of Georgia, Walters will remain on paid administrative leave as a faculty member while investigations are ongoing, Carvajal said. Walters had been removed as dean of the college and therefore that portion of his salary will be eliminated, he said.
James LaPlant will serve as interim dean of the college effective immediately, said Bob Smith, VSU provost.
Others charged in the sting received the following bonds:
Jamian Jeffery Hogan, 34, of Valdosta: "not bailable."
Wyman Rene Phillips, 36, of South Carolina: bond amount unconfirmed by VDT at this time.
Justin N. Warren, 24, of Albany: bond amount unconfirmed by VDT at this time.
Bronson J. Tripp, 24, of Wentworth: "not bailable."
Dave Vincent Almon, 43, of Valdosta: bond amount unconfirmed by VDT at this time.
John Henry Hursey, 45, of Douglas: $20,000.
Walter Lee Curry, 33, of Valdosta: $20,000.
Josue Barranco Trejo, 31, of Fitzgerald: bond amount unconfirmed by VDT at this time.
Keith Morrison, 43, of Valdosta: bond amount unconfirmed by VDT at this time.
Billy Stephen Carter, 57, of Lake Park: $20,000.
Eugene A. Mainah, 35, of Valdosta: $20,000.
Eric Bernard Copeland, 49, of Quitman: $20,000.
Wilford L. Sermons, 28, of Hahira: bond amount unconfirmed by VDT at this time.
Terry Richards contributed to this report.
This report was updated at 12:23 p.m., Feb. 13.