'Nuclear' allegations: Ex asserts sordid past of Scoutmaster
Annette Morgan tried to warn authorities about her husband. Her allegations ended up backfiring against her in the couple's divorce proceedings, an outcome that– if an unnamed accuser's allegations stand– allowed predation to occur after the warnings.
The man at the center of the storm, David Brian Watkins of Starry Sky Lane in Keswick, has been jailed, accused of pedophilia in the year of Morgan's divorce filing.
Police announced last week they had arrested Watkins on a felony count of forcible sodomy. While his lawyer waived a bail hearing that might have shed light on the case and declined to return a reporter's phone calls, the November 28 arrest warrant spells out grave accusations sworn by Albemarle County Police Corporal Darrell R. Byers: that over the course of the year 2005 Watkins engaged in oral and anal intercourse with a boy.
The law construes any such adult conduct with someone under the age of 13 as non-consensual. Now an adult, according to Police, the young man has not been identified in the records, other than via his initials, but his accusation may bolster the accounts by Morgan, whose accusations were portrayed during the couple's bitter divorce as lies perpetrated by an enraged and estranged spouse.
"I haven't changed my story and I'm not going to," says a defiant Morgan, interviewed on the Downtown Mall two days after her ex-husband's case began grabbing headlines. "My story," she says, "is the truth."
Morgan's story is detailed in a voluminous file stored in the top floor of Albemarle Circuit Court. First revealed by the Daily Progress, the file contains a transcript of a February 2006 hearing that was part of the divorce proceedings which shows the couple seemed to once share an idyllic life.
Neither attended college, but the transcript indicates how Watkins built a nearly $100,000 a year income based on building and repairing computers. An Albemarle native, Morgan fulfilled her lifelong dream by raising dogs and horses on the couple's 17-acre farm near Keswick.
Their idyll, however, began fraying at least eight years ago. In one of the transcript's less explosive allegations, Morgan noted how she was heading back from a dog show in South Carolina when she attempted to fill up her gas tank– only to find that her credit card had been cut off. She concluded it was a power-move by Watkins, who by her testimony kept 23 credit cards. However, he answered that the card was frozen by American Express due to her own excessive spending.
Morgan also testified that on the night of her 37th birthday, in 2001, she and her husband took an argument out to their kennel, where Watkins turned violent by allegedly twisting her hand with such force that she suffered a spiral fracture in one finger requiring five surgical screws to mend. Under oath, Watkins conceded that "our hands twisted" during a "struggle."
The medical record is unambiguous about the bone break. However, in the court record, it was Morgan who was deemed violent because four years later she pleaded guilty, via a so-called Alford plea, to punching Watkins in front of one of the children. While her husband conceded that he required no medical treatment, she asserted that she accepted the plea to spare the child from the prospect of testifying against a parent.
The broken finger turned out to be the lesser of Morgan's main allegations; she also accused Watkins of taking inappropriate liberties with a boy.
"My testimony today," she said under oath, "is that they kiss on the mouth, that they hold hands, that they touch each other. In inappropriate ways."
She went on to recollect instances of her husband showering and sleeping naked with the boy.
"You thought he'd found someone at Boy Scouts he loved?" one of the lawyers asked.
"Yeah," she replied. "Lots of little boys."
Over eight years ago, she allegedly checked her husband's drug records and concluded that his prescriptions for 180 Viagra pills didn't jibe with a couple that, by her estimate, had had sex just 18 times in the prior four years.
The evidence in the court file shows lists of prescriptions fulfilled by the local CVS plus a receipt from Pillstore.com showing delivery to Watkins' workplace. In the summer of 2004, Morgan decided to do some sleuthing.
Along with a friend, who had a boy in the Scout troop who was receiving money from Watkins, the two women used a key to slip into the office of Watkins Computer Service while the proprietor was away. Case evidence included photographs of multiple bottles of the little blue erection-inducing pill. By her count, Watkins found 58 pills at the office on East Market Street– far more than the six tablets she counted at home.
While Watkins would explain that giving money and opening a bank account for the friend's son was an innocent way to help the lad fund an upcoming National Scout Jamboree, Morgan's anger would intensify.
"The rage that I feel at this moment is so overwhelming I want to smash every computer, television in the house," she wrote in her journal. "I want to take everything he owns and set it on fire in the front yard, every Boy Scout uniform, every little bullshit trinket he will sit and make for other people, all his CDs, clothes, everything that reminds me of him. I want to burn it all up and say goodbye to him forever and never look back."
Her anger backfired.
"She's the one that committed the acts of cruelty on him," concluded opposing counsel Ron Tweel. "Being accused of every nasty thing– I mean, is there anything worse than being accused of being a pedophile? I can't think of it."
Tweel also noted that clinical psychologist Jeffrey Fracher examined Watkins and found him unlikely to prey on children. "He got a clean bill of health," said Tweel, "from Dr. Fracher, the local expert on sexual deviancy."
When the Virginia Court of Appeals got the case in 2007, the Court agreed with Watkins, who didn't even submit a brief for his side. Morgan was not only at fault but also a liar, according to the Court, due to "her repeated, humiliating false accusations against [her] husband and her June 2005 assault on [her] husband."
Hook legal analyst David Heilberg explains that a child abuse allegation is a "nuclear bomb" if raised in the context of a divorce.
"Once the bomb is detonated," says Heilberg, "everybody in the family is forever damaged by its radioactive fallout."
Heilberg says that courts view such allegations with some skepticism, even if the assertion may seem plausible with the benefit of hindsight in the form of a charge launched by another individual.
Morgan asserts today that she contacted Social Services with her allegations long ago. County spokesperson Lee Catlin says that County policy forbids confirming the existence or date of such a complaint.
"Obviously," says Heilberg, speaking of the late-November felony charge, "the Commonwealth believes the accusation is credible."
However, by calling on other victims to come forward via a dedicated line for potential victims (434-972-4045), Heilberg says that prosecutors may wish to bolster their case with additional accusers to overcome a skeptical jury's belief that it just can't be true.
Chatting with a reporter on the Mall as the sun sets on a chilly day in late November, Morgan deflects a question about whether she feels vindicated by the imprisonment of her ex-husband, who remains incarcerated at least until his December 17 preliminary hearing.
"It's unfortunate that there's so much attention on the perpetrator," says Morgan, thanking the unnamed young man now accusing her ex-husband of pedophilia.
"Someone needs to say out loud what a brave person he is and commend him," says Morgan. "That takes guts."Read more on: David Brian Watkins