Nine days after The Commercial Dispatch ran a story about Ronald Scott Walters being promoted to sports editor, the newspaper in Columbus had to publish a story about him being arrested for sexually assaulting a minor.
Walters, a 47-year-old Laurel native who served as assistant sports editor for the Leader-Call under its previous ownership, is charged with exploitation of a minor in a case involving a young boy in Horn Lake back in November. He was arrested by Starkville police on a warrant Tuesday.
The accuser, who is under age 18, told Horn Lake investigators that he met Walters in Horn Lake and was sexually assaulted, according to media reports. Walters was in Oktibbeha County Jail awaiting his initial court appearance, which was scheduled for Wednesday.
Walters had just taken the reins as sports editor at The Commercial Dispatch on Monday, Feb. 4, after working there as a sports writer since 2011. He predominantly covered high school sports and East Mississippi Community College football, according to the story announcing his promotion, and he was selected state Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association in 2013 and 2017.
“Journalism has been a rewarding part of my life for parts of four decades now,” Walters said at the time of his promotion. “Everyone has a story to tell. As journalists, it is our job to tell that story and to show you someone in a different light. ”
After Walters’ promotion, managing editor Zack Plair said, “Scott brings to our sports editor position not only a compelling writing style, but vast institutional knowledge of youth, high school and college athletics in this area. I’m excited about this opportunity for him and am looking forward to seeing his capable leadership skills shape the future of our sports coverage.”