Demerit badge: Former Keswick scoutmaster charged with sodomy

A former scoutmaster of a Keswick-based Boy Scout troop has been charged with forcible sodomy. At a 5pm press conference, officials released that David Brian Watkins, 49, who founded Troop 1028 and went on to serve as its leader for eight years, is an accused felony child-molester.

Watkins was arrested on Wednesday, November 28. The investigation began one week ago on November 21, when the now-adult victim reported sexual abuse that took place when he was a juvenile. Additional charges are under consideration.

"We believe there could be other victims," said Albemarle Police Lieutenant Todd Hopwood. "Any victim who feels that they've been sexually assaulted, we urge them to come forward."

Police have a dedicated line for possible victims or anyone with further information about the investigation: 434-972-4045.

Hopwood notes that acts of sodomy involving a juvenile under the age of 13 are automatically considered non-consensual. A forcible sodomy conviction carries a penalty of five years to life in prison.

"I just learned about this," says Michael Hesbach, an official with the Stonewall Jackson Council of the Boy Scouts of America. "He is not a leader with the Boy Scouts of America now."

Hesbach released this statement: "The abuse of anyone, especially a child, is intolerable, and our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who may be a victim of this type of behavior. The behavior included in these allegations runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands. This individual has been removed from Scouting and has not been involved in the program for several months. He has been permanently banned from participating in the Scouting program."

Hesbach says that background checks are performed on volunteers.

Nationally, the Boy Scouts– just two years after celebrating a centennial of promoting teamwork, community service, and self-reliance– have found themselves immersed in a darker side of the organization. Records released last month, dubbed the "perversion files," detail instances of more than 1,200 molestations from the mid-1960s to mid-1980s.

According to online records, Watkins launched Troop 1028 in the year 2000 and stepped down as its leader in 2008. The records indicate that Watkins continued to serve the three-patrol troop as a member of its governing committee with oversight on service projects and the Order of the Arrow, a special honor society for top Scouts. The troop meets at the Charlottesville Moose Lodge 1028 on Richmond Road.

A computer expert, Watkins is listed as owner and CEO of Watkins Computer Services and continues to serve as the administrative contact for, an archive of the group's early years.

"Our Scout troop is working swiftly and diligently to address the matter with the strong support of the Boy Scouts of America," says Pete Fenlon, the current Scoutmaster of Troop 1028, in an email.

Watkins will have a bond hearing at 1:30pm Thursday in Albemarle Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Updated at 6:25 and 6:41pm

Correction 11/29: The time of the bond hearing was wrong in the original version.

–with additional reporting by Hawes Spencer

Read more on: David Brian Watkins


Any abuse is inexcusable, and offenders should be dealt with accordingly.

That said, while these incidents are well-publicized in the media and are hot topics of conversation around the water cooler, they are actually extremely rare and should not be viewed as an indictment of the Scouting organization. In fact, a recent study found that boys are LESS likely to encounter sexual abuse while in Scouting activities than they are while in the public at large.

This man was my son's Scoutmaster and he was wonderful. The boys loved him and learned aot from him. He wasn't just a Scout leader, he was a National Jamboree Scoutmaster and member of the Order of the Arrow, the Honor Society within Scouting. This man has dedicated much of his life to Scouting and been a wonderful role model to many many boys. Everyone needs to remember that HE IS INNOCENT until proven guilty.

No, Mary. Things have changed in this society. He is now guilty until he proves his innocence. And even if he proves his innocence, he will always be remembered as "that guy who was charged with so and so a few years ago". Even some of his best friends and family will wonder if he was most likely guilty or not. You can never go back to a normal life after having your picture, name and charges plastered in every newspaper and every TV station in a 75 to 100 mile radius..

I don't know if the man is guilty or not, but that is a pretty flippant headline to describe a possibly horrible crime. It makes the Hook writers look callous. Do you really need to prove your cleverness that much?

I agree with Walter. The headline is not only flippy, it's highly offensive to any victim of child abuse. Not a story to try to be cute on, shame on you Hook.

I would also have to agree with Walter. This is a serious crime, involving someones child. No need for the cute intro.

I agree with Walter and the others. Weak attempt to be cute, humorous, and/or clever. Not appropriate with this story.

Love C-ville all you want. The headline is of no consequence. The issue is the predator.

Smarmy and cruel seem to what the Hook specializes in.
No one should be surprised by the grossly inappropriate headline.
Felony child abuse is no joke and the demerit badge tag belittles the crime and victims deserve better.

Look at what this man is accused of. And all you want to complain about is the headline? Because they said "Demerit badge?" It wasn't funny, not even clever. But those bringing focus to it over the article are being just as callous to the victims. The arrest is the story, not the headline, however much it is disagreeable.

I would never ever let my kid having anything do to with that corrupt, sickening organization...I'll teach my son how to camp, tie knots, and be a man....

"Demerit badge"??? Really? You guys have no class. Disgusting headline and according to this article you make it sound like you've already decided he's guilty.

Is it just me or are the Hook's articles getting more trashy? I keep coming here every few days hoping to find an article that has substance and occasionally I find one but usually it's just preying on other people's pain and misfortune.

I hope that someone reads the comments of this article and takes them seriously. Hawes?

Hawes is too busy preparing to be the giggle box for Coy's show to worry about victims and predators.

I too read DSW Warren's report several weeks ago on the "perversion files" kept by BSA as mentioned by Mr. Wagoner. A distinguished UVA Professor and Social Work expert Ms. Warren's report reflected great care in her research and review of this material.

In a few years, I will approach nearly 50 years in Scouting both as a boy (Eagle '72) and as an adult who has scouted all over the world from Japan to Europe and around the United States. I have been party in that time to both sides of this terrible coin of abuse:

- on one hand, helping to put offenders of children behind bars and glad to do it! Yet, still sad for those affected, and

- on the other hand, sad witness to people, on occasion, wrongfully accused whose lives were destroyed from recanted lies proven "beyond the shadow of a doubt" after transparent and intensive investigation. In fact, one such case I was aware resulted in a suicide, event after the person was publicly cleared.

So you see their are two, or event three or more sides to every story.

If the man suspected in this article of this horrific offense is in fact - guilty, the man should be placed under the jail without question and without delay; but, if he is found "beyond the shadow of any doubt" - innocent, it will be the community that needs to help everyone heal. For those with an ax to grind with Scouting, it is too simple to find fault. What is much more important is the "collective impact" we can have to help every organization that serves youth be more responsible and responsive to youth protection. The story as already stated is about the this shameful and predatory act!

Reporting the crime or potential crime is needed and with minimal editorializing. What is best served for youth targeted as victims of predators is in finding productive ways for the community, as a whole, to assure predatory behaviors not only don't happen in scouting, but don't happen via other venues not as public? What is deficient in The Hook's article is no mention of the research of the UVA professor, nor does it provide the redoubled efforts scouting has put in place in recent years in its Youth Protection Training (YPT) program.

It becomes imperative that everyone (registered scouters are required every two year, and every scouting parents should) take the FREE online training ( Only when we hold each other accountable with knowledge can we honestly build as strong a wall as possible around our youth to protect them from predators - collectively.

My father, now long deceased and who immigrated here after WWII, was fond of saying to me "Son - one person's rights extend only as far as the next person's rights begin." The rights of children can only be assured and often begin when we, as responsible adults, are fully engaged and fully accountable to them for their safety. And, they extend to a time when they have successfully managed those formative years, with our help, ready to take on the world and make it a better place able to stand for themselves to defend their own rights as responsible adults. This means the Hook and the entire Charlottesville/Albemarle County Community must be accountable. Eternal vigilance that includes, but is not limited to - (1) two deep leadership at all times, (2) well trained youth leaders unafraid to look-out for those who could be compromised, (3) proactive unit committees and charter partners who should expect leader accountability, and (4) most important - informed parents/guardians who should be engaged in assuring that youth protection is being achieved with reasonable expectation are what we all must do as Scouting takes its continued Journey to Excellence as a place where boys and girls in the program can be safe as they grow.

Finally, a single mother I know called me about what she should do regarding her children who are interested in joining this unit. My advice is this - if you like the unit for other reasons (e.g. solid outdoor program, welcoming leaders and sense of family, etc.) then join the unit for those and these added reasons:

(1) The unit's leadership will be under a microscope in the near term and will want to be even more transparent about the current leaders, the current state of youth protection training, and program focus of the unit;

(2) Those same current and new parents/guardians are more likely to increase their knowledge of BSA's Youth Protection and take the training so they are more alert to the subtle behaviors of sexual predators and be more watchful to help assert early interventions; and

(3) With everything said, DSW Warren's work in her conclusions are -"Time and again ... I (she) was struck by BSA's pursuit of information regarding a suspected sexual offender. These claims of abuse were not swept under the carpet and ignored. Rather, suspected offenders were pursued and often times barred from scouting over their fervent objection and at times even the opinion of the local community. I (she) believe that these files show that children in Scouting were safer and less likely to experience inappropriate sexual behavior in Scouting than in their own families, schools and during other community activities supervised by adults. BSA's use of a community vetting system and a national registration system succeeded in offering young people an overwhelming safe environment in which to grow and develop..."

Thank you for allowing me to share. The community at large should remember all victims of abuse and to work to correct and prevent the forces that invite abuse.

The article asks readers to come forward if they have been sexually abused by this man. With a satirical head line like demeret badge do you really expect for anyone to come forward and subject themselves to your brand of journalism? This would not have happened if it were a case of a woman being raped. The double standard for men when it comes to sex abuse is unreal as the hook clearly demonstrates that it's ok to try to make jokes if males are abused. If it was the girl scouts would they have done the same thing? Not a chance might offend the ladies they are sensitive you know. But the males they are used to bearing the burden they will be fine. Make a lil joke at your expense because you were sexually abused. NICE hooksters. You might try to do the right thing and apologize but that takes a mighty big man. Much easier to make jokes and take no accountability for your hurtful words.

Really? Agreed!!! As a veteran of many long hours in emergency rooms in the early days of military service, I have been witness to young girls and mature women coming in for care after the violent violation of their persons. Those who have either not experienced the trauma directly, nor been witness to its brutality as a care provider, can in their smugness understand, or if they themselves were violated, and now in their satire are willing to add salt rather than seek healing borne in wisdom.

Really? Thank you for your courage. But, people should come forward. Yes, the pain involved is difficult! And, yes the those members of the media with callus intent who are unthinking and self-righteous will endeavor to twist things to their will. But, as in a quote attributed to Edmond Burke, in a speech on 23 April, 1770 in the House of Commons we find the courage that needs display: " When bad men [and women] combine, the good [men and women] must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." More commonly known are these words: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing."

As I stated in an earlier post, "The community at large should remember all victims [males and females] of abuse and to work to correct and prevent the forces that invite [that] abuse." After all that is the meaning of community in the words of the US Constitution when it says - "...provide for the common defense." We - as the community, both media and non-media are that - common defense! If we fail as a community to protect or to help those who have been violated, it is not one person's fault it is the fault of a community to respond and be responsive in rational and measured ways.

There is no way for this man to get a fair trial with this kind of yellow journalism!!! The Hook should be ashamed of this piece for so many reasons. But the one that no one has mentioned so far is the inclusion of so much information about the Troop. The boys and leaders of the Troop do not need spectators and media at their next outings. These are young boys! I hope the media has enough class to leave the boys alone, HA.

The troop has a website. Anyone who really wanted to know could find it, just as I'm sure the Hook probably did. If the troop put it online, anyone can access the information. Why would anyone want to bother the troop now? The man hasn't been a leader since 2008. Do you really think people would come out to watch a boy scout troop camp out?

You think the hook isn't above poo-pooing a case of alleged child sexual abuse if the alleged child victim is a female? Then you don't know the people at the hook!

Here is another case of a man putting himself in a position where he has ready access to children. The Priesthood, education (ahem!), scouting, etc, these are the fields to which child sexual abuse predators flock.

Did this man have a son in the scouts? If not, that is a huge red flag. It would be like a politically connected man who works in a field unrelated to education, expressing interest in and pursuing the field of education before he has any children of his own (ahem!), it's not an indicator of guilt, but it fits a profile.

Dave did have a boy in Scouting. That is why and how he got involved. The Troop has already been harrassed by the media over this situation. The idea that the media would not harrass the Troop is naive at best. David did not leave the Troop until June of this year.

As Eagle Scouts we promise to give back to Scouting what it gave us. Even if we don't have sons, we have a debt to Scouting to repay. Don't jump to conclusions about childless male leaders.

@ Nate Szejniuk:

Bravo! for your most lucid, erudite commentary on this most troubling turn of events.


The troop has a website. They made their information public. I am not saying it is right for the media to harrass them, but they opened the door. I believe I'd think twice about posting photographs, etc of these children on the internet in the first place.

"Adult Eagle" - Yes!

"Seeking Veritas..." You are welcome!

Think you all above should see the evidence that is coming out and it for the record, as a native, I knew this guy long ago and he always gave me a creepy feeling, this said, it was just a feeling (perhaps it was spot on).

For the Mom above, I truly hope your child wasn't harmed but I can tell you, I'm sure there were many out there who raved about Jerry Sandusky too.

Rule #1 in deez streets. ALWAYS go with your gut.

@Today, of course I care more about the victims than a headline. My reason for commenting was that sometimes the Hook will alter stories, headlines, etc. based on some of the comments. I hoped that maybe the editors would change that headline in case people were seeing the headline for the first time.

This whole story is atrocious and heart breaking for those poor victims involved and that is obvious. They do not need their pain made light of for the sake of an editor sounding clever. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be happening.

Re: the headline...just poor journalism. The Hook is taking its cues from media such as the trite, hackneyed, unimaginative writers at The Today Show. It is more important to look hipper-than-thou to the increasingly illiterate American public than give a little thought to what pen is writing on paper. I suppose for the next story on rape, The Hook will open with "Love Stinks" as the headline.
Re: the story...if you want to look at the bottom dweller of journalistic ethics, look at how the Peter-principled reporter at NBC29--along with his 167th-largest-market high-achieving editor--treated the story. Pure nausea. At least The Hook informed us without victimizing children (so much for those SPJ ethics, Channel 29!).
Re: the facts...This is emerging as a local tragedy with lots of angles: Boy Scout management of of children...government's due diligence in its investigations...divorce law...the psychology of "grooming" victims by predators...etc. It sure brings home the sad fact that such horrors can be occurring next door to you.

R.I.P.: John Wayne Gacy

Watkins must be one of those same-sex marriage democrats. That would explain it.