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Documents paint troubled picture of scoutmaster accused of assault

Documents paint troubled picture of scoutmaster accused of assault

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Court records paint a picture of a life in disarray for David Brian Watkins: he faced a failing marriage, finances in shambles and signs of darker troubles.

His wife accused him of sleeping naked with a young boy, according to 2006 divorce records. A friend of hers testified that she called police concerned about Watkins’ behavior, but later backed off, the records said. A forensic psychologist examined him but concluded he posed no threat.

The ex-scoutmaster and son of a J.C. Penney retail manager was jailed Wednesday on a forcible sodomy charge. An Albemarle County arrest warrant said Watkins, 49, had anal and oral sex with a boy under the age of 13 in 2005. The boy was a Scout under Watkins’ command in Keswick Troop 1028 at the time of the alleged assault, police said. Investigators say more charges could follow.

The Boy Scouts of America severed Watkins’ ties with the organization in June after Charlottesville police investigated a report of inappropriate sexual activity. No charges were filed.

“When the authorities came back to us and said, ‘We can’t make an arrest,’ we removed him from scouting forever,” said Stonewall Jackson Area Council spokesman Michael Hesbach. “When this was reported to us, it was the first time we had heard [any concerns].”

Charlottesville police said they investigated Watkins. They would not comment further.

A box containing thousands pages of court records from Watkins’ divorce shows his marriage to Annette Morgan was on the rocks by 2001, when he broke her hand during an argument, according to the documents. She underwent two surgeries to repair her injuries, the records said. The owner of a Charlottesville business, Watkins Computer Services, Watkins faced federal tax liens for thousands of dollars dating to 2006.

A family friend testified that year that she called Albemarle police in 2004 with concerns about his contact with her young son, according to Watkins’ divorce records. She later told the court that her suspicions were allayed after she confronted him about his interest in her child. Albemarle County police investigators did not have any record of the call, said department spokeswoman Carter Johnson.

Watkins’ ex-wife, Annette Morgan, told an Albemarle County judge in 2006 that she had seen her husband shower and sleep naked with a young boy several times but did not go to the police with her concerns, according to public transcripts of the couple’s divorce proceedings. The process was initiated in 2005, revived in 2009 and is still active. The cases’ records overflow from the cardboard box housing them in the Albemarle Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.

The latest person to come forward, now an adult, is a former member of the troop Watkins led from 2002 to 2008.

“I am saddened and in shock,” the troop’s scoutmaster, Pete Fenlon, said in an email. “I regret any circumstance that might hurt the Scouts or reflect badly on scouting.”

Watkins’ interaction with children was not limited to scouting. He coached his son’s T-ball and Little League teams, he testified in 2006.

His focus on boys gave his ex-wife pause.

“Maybe he has found someone at [Troop 1028] that he likes or loves,” she wrote in a journal saved to a family computer.

By “someone,” Morgan meant “lots of little boys,” she later told the court.

She became increasingly suspicious of Watkins’ behavior in the early 2000s, when his monthly supply of the erectile dysfunction treatment drug Viagra far exceeded the dozen to two dozen times she recalled having sex with him, according to records.

An attorney grilled Watkins about the allegations during divorce proceedings in 2006: “Are you aware of these claims that you are a pedophile, a child molester, a bisexual, a homosexual, a pervert of the worst kind?”

“Yes I am,” Watkins replied.

“Have you ever done anything inappropriate with … [a] child?” he asked.

“No sir, I have not,” Watkins said.

Dr. Jeffrey Fracher, a certified sex offender treatment provider practicing in Albemarle, evaluated Watkins in 2005 under the conditions of the couple’s separation agreement and wrote, “It is the opinion of this examiner, with a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, that David B. Watkins represents no current threat to [children], with regard to his sexual behavior.”

Watkins’ divorce from his wife was finalized in 2005. The couple have a son and a daughter, both of whom are adults.

Albemarle police said they have established a dedicated line for potential victims of sexual abuse and have received multiple calls.

Reaching out often takes time, especially for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, said Kristi VanAudenhove, co-director of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, an umbrella organization that links state resource agencies and operates a 24-hour crisis hotline. 

“We’re as likely to get a first-time call about something that happened three weeks ago, three months ago or three years ago as we are about something that just happened,” VanAudenhove said.

The abuse is particularly difficult to process in situations where the aggressor is a mentoring figure or role model, she explained.

“When you’re growing and someone that you trust violates you in such a way that you know deep-down it’s wrong, but they’re a right person in your life, it creates a huge contradiction for kids,” she said. “It rocks their sense of right and wrong and leads them to struggle with how to approach the world.”

Watkins is being held at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.



Victims’ line

Albemarle police have established a dedicated line for potential victims, 972-4045.

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