Daniel Watkins discusses the noose incident at Abilene Christian College, six months before he was impeached as student body president.
Daniel Paul Watkins after his May 6 arrest for stalking and assault.
PHOTO ALBEMARLE POLICE
Not since Teddy Kennedy was speeding through town and picking up reckless driving tickets in the late 1950s has UVA Law School seen so much scandal. This academic year ends with two unseemly incidents: third-year Johnathan Perkins was on the verge of graduation when he admitted fabricating an incident of police racial profiling, and classmate Daniel Watkins was arrested May 6 on stalking and assault charges.
For Watkins, a second-year lawyer-in-training from Fredericksburg, it was not the first time he'd felt the public glare. In September 2008, as an undergraduate political science major and student body president at Abilene Christian University, the African American Watkins reported finding a noose on his office chair, an incident of potential bias that made national news. Police investigated, and no arrests were made.
Six months later, Watkins was impeached and booted from office for a host of charges including manipulative and unethical behavior. Student leaders said the charges had nothing to do with the noose incident, but in an interview with the Associated Press, Watkins suggested his impeachment was a racially motivated "personal vendetta." At UVA Watkins, is listed as organizer for a group called Students United to Promote Racial Awareness.
The latest charges against Watkins follow an alleged assault February 13. The victim, Watkins' former girlfriend and UVA classmate, filed a complaint with the Office of the Dean of Students, and Watkins was ordered to have no contact with her, according to the Newsplex. But on May 5, the woman reported to University Police that Watkins had violated the administrative protective order, and he was arrested the next day.
Court records indicate that Watkins was released from jail around 3:30am on May 7 on $2,500 bail secured by a Jeep Wrangler belonging to another law student, Katherine Gilli Gordon, who showed up in court May 12.
At that hearing, a suit-and-tie-wearing Watkins asked Judge William Barkley to let him leave the state on his own recognizance for a summer job in Dallas. Barkley agreed, so Watkins is due back in court June 27 for his trial on the stalking and assault charges. Each is is a class 1 misdemeanor, carrying up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
While Watkins did not return an emailed request for comment, a legal gossip website called Above the Law alleges that Watkins and police brutality fabricator Johnathan Perkins are buddies.
UVA's Standards of Conduct prohibit physical or sexual assault, as well as violation of federal, state, and local law. Students picking up a rap sheet are subject to disciplinary measures ranging from admonition to expulsion. If UVA follows the precedent set with Perkins– who was not charged with filing a false report to police, although admitting he'd done so– then Watkins will enjoy another year in the hallowed halls.
"Each case is taken individually," says UVA spokeswoman Carol Wood in an email. "Much depends on the severity of the charges and whether the student is considered a threat to our community."
Wood notes that the Dean of Students can perform an interim suspension to remove students whose misdeeds could be a potential threat to the community, but that information would not be made public. Wood also says the Dean can file charges against an errant student with the University Judiciary Committee.