Superfly actor and rapper Kaalan Walker was found guilty Monday of raping six victims — three of them 16-year-old aspiring models — and sexually assaulting a seventh woman during a series of what prosecutors called “sophisticated” attacks between 2013 and late 2018.
The actor, who appeared in Kings with Halle Berry in 2017 and played gang member Juju in the 2018 flick Superfly, hung his head and began sobbing as the split verdict from a Los Angeles jury was read. He was acquitted of charges related to three of the 10 victims in the case, including two charges of forcible rape.
“I didn’t rape anybody, your honor. I did not rape anybody,” Walker, 27, exclaimed as he was led away in handcuffs after the jury departed. He’s facing up to 100 years to life at sentencing. His lawyer, Andrew Flier, quickly vowed an appeal.
During her closing argument last week, Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Wallace called Walker a “serial rapist” who dubiously name-dropped Drake with most of his victims, promising introductions that never materialized.
She and fellow prosecutor Yasmin Fardghassemi told jurors during the six-week trial that when Walker combined his minor celebrity status with the “little blue check mark” on his social media profiles, he was able to disarm his victims’ defenses and lure them to remote locations with promises of photo shoots or video gigs.
“We feel that with this verdict, the jury gave these victims back their voices,” Wallace tells Rolling Stone. “This was very sophisticated. He picked these girls and he appealed to their dreams and hopes and name-dropped Drake and used his connection to Halle Berry to get these girls somewhere and gain their trust. Once they were there, it wasn’t about doing photo shoots, it was about assaulting them.”
In total, more than 30 women stepped forward with assault claims against Walker, prosecutors have said. Three alleged victims whose allegations did not result in charges for various reasons were allowed to testify as so-called prior bad acts witnesses, meaning their testimony was meant to show Walker had a propensity for committing the charged crimes. One was model Jada Everon, who spoke to Rolling Stone after the verdict and gave permission to use her full name.
Everon, now 23 and living in Las Vegas, told jurors she was only 16 years old when Walker contacted her on Instagram and promised her a photo shoot. She traveled from Fresno to meet him and was raped in 2014, she testified.
“Honestly, I was shocked when I heard the guilty verdict. There are so many rapists who get to walk free, and I was really afraid he would be one of them. But finally there’s justice, finally we’re heard. This was seven years ago for me. Seven years of seeing him on social media, seeing his fame rise, seeing him hurt more women. I just kind of gave up hope, so finally seeing this happening, it’s tears of joy,” Everon says.
“He did the same thing with me that he did with the others. He mentioned Drake. He name-dropped Drake. He filled me up with a bunch of hopes and dreams. What he said was dramatic. He said, ‘I can make you famous overnight. You can have access to all the famous people I know.’ It was very dramatic. At that age, I was so naïve. I was believing everything he said. I thought everything he said was legit. The entire time the assault occurred, every time I said ‘Stop,’ or was crying, he would say, ‘You’re so immature. I’m not going to help you anymore. I’m going to take it all away from you.’ He flipped a switch and became a complete predator,” Everon recalls.
Flier said he plans to file a motion for a new trial based on multiple decisions by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph Brandolino that limited the information Walker could present about the victims in the case.
“I don’t think he got a fair trial, and the fact that he had three acquittals on three of the victims speaks volumes. I think it will make his appellate issues a lot more meritorious. But I’m disappointed about the verdicts,” Flier tells Rolling Stone. “The defense was precluded from calling witnesses to show the same pattern but no rape. The judge did not allow us to call witnesses about that same issue, but on the reverse.”
The jury, which included three Black women, heard from the charged victims as well as Walker during the trial. One of the victims described how she was a 16-year-old aspiring model when Walker offered her a photo shoot. She testified that her mother and stepfather drove her to Walker’s apartment building. She said he separated her from her family and manipulated her into filming an impromptu sex tape with claims he could introduce her to Drake and that she’d never fulfill her dream of becoming a Victoria’s Secret model without showing a more provocative side.
“He talked about Drake, taking her to a Drake party. What does he tell her? ‘Well, you know what? If you want to do all of these things, if you want to be at parties with Drake, if you want to be a Victoria’s Secret model, you know what we have to do? We have to film a sex tape,’” Wallace said during her closing. “He’s a 22-year-old man telling a 16-year-old girl, ‘We have to film a sex tape.’”
The girl told jurors that she resisted “multiple times,” but Walker “doesn’t take no for an answer,” Wallace said.
“He keeps insisting, pushing and persisting, talking over her,” and eventually wearing the girl down until she finally relented, Wallace said. “She said, ‘Well, I thought: ‘He knows all these people. He’s going to help me.’ I thought what I was doing was going to help my career.’”
Wallace said the law is clear that a child’s consent is “never” a defense to statutory rape. “Minors are not developed in the same way emotionally and mentally that adults are, and we know this,” Wallace said. “That is why children are protected from adult men. You don’t have to do a lot of work on them. You promise them a few things and you get a naked 16-year-old girl who will let you penetrate her from behind.”
Wallace tells Rolling Stone there’s “no evidence [Walker] had any connection to Drake. It was just a thing that he used to lure the girls in. It was a trap, a ruse, his way of getting these girls.”
One of Walker’s convictions Monday related to his rape of a woman outside a Tyga show at the Belasco nightclub in Los Angeles in January 2014. The woman testified she got too drunk on a party bus to gain admission to the show and was led to a car by someone who promised to help her but ultimately raped her. The woman had no idea who her assailant was until she got a rape exam and the DNA in her vaginal cavity matched to Walker, Wallace said.
Accuser Tiara Kelly, was listening to Monday’s hearing over a special web connection set up for Walker’s victims.
“To actively hear the court say ‘guilty’ on multiple counts, I could feel my anxiety lessen,” the model, who says Walker raped her after she agreed to meet him for a photo shoot in 2014, tells Rolling Stone. “I am elated to know justice has finally been served and we are protected.”
Kelly and fellow accuser Sydney Stanford previously spoke to Hollywood Unlocked in a sit-down interview that detailed their alleged experiences with Walker, who released rap music under the name “KR.”
“I’m so grateful for everybody who testified on behalf of all of his victims because I know that not every single voice got the chance able to be heard,” Stanford said in an emotional Instagram video after the verdict.