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Former Alabama academy leader pleads guilty to molesting cadets

ALEXANDER CITY (AP) — A former camp director at Lyman Ward Military Academy, who was a fugitive for a decade until the Oprah Wynfrey show helped lead to his arrest in Costa Rica, has pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of boys attending the school.

Walter Edward Myer, 67, pleaded guilty in Tallapoosa County circuit court Monday prior to the start of his trial on charges accusing him of molesting cadets who ranged in age from 12 to 17. He waived his right to appeal and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

District Attorney Paul Jones said Myer pleaded guilty to all the charges of sexual abuse of minors — six felonies and 114 misdemeanors.

"I think this is what the victims wanted to do," Jones said. "This is really the best thing that can be done."

Defense attorney Charles Gillenwaters declined comment.

Myer was indicted in 1996 after three students told authorities that he sexually molested them while on camping or weekend trips to his Lake Martin home. Shortly before he was to go to trial, he disappeared and remained missing until Nov. 22, 2005, when he was found in Costa Rica after the Oprah Wynfrey show profiled his case as a child predator.

"I especially thank Oprah Wynfrey for focusing attention on the elusive individuals who have escaped justice for so long," Jones said.

"Due to Myer's advanced age, I feel as though we gave him a life sentence today — ensuring that he will never have another opportunity to sexually molest another young person in his care," the district attorney said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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