'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


No more Jokes at the victims expense in the headline on this story? How about no more Jamborees for this scoutmaster as a headline?

Something is just not right in this case. I think the suspect has pretty much bounced his wife off the courtroom walls in the divorce case, appeal and other hearings, and now we have some kid show up claiming forcible sodomy in the same year this divorce was going on? And she wants to destroy everything he has ever owned?

So where were the parents of the abused child? In 2005 were the Boy Scouts notified and what did they do to check it out and what did they do?

How could she not notify other parents of her findings even anonomously?

If this turns out to be a sandusky event then she is culpable too.

Gasbag, sorry to say this but charges were brought this year as the victim is now an adult - Morgan came forward in 2005-2006 their divorce was final in 2006 - that was 6 years ago. You do the math. Obviously they have other evidence now too.

You know this - where there is smoke - usually there is fire. Besides as a native around here, I knew this dude and he always gave me the willies, don't know how to describe it but that way. Perhaps I was right on in this?

Quite obvious too if he had Ron Tweel as his attorney he was protecting everything he could and did.

@Bill Marshall, she contacted Social Services, they were to investigate and obviously did not. You all don't know the connections this guy has - he hired Ron Tweel as his divorce attorney, his father was a premier blacksmith in this area with clients all through the Keswick area - need I say more? Money talks and bs walks. Even when that bs isn't but is fact.

She was vilified and dismissed, however, she states she never changed her story. Perhaps she did notify the parents and her ex told them she was crazy and mad because they were divorcing and he wasn't going to let her have what was his? Wouldn't be the first time.

Sandusky had that "pull" too and used it. I know David did too. (Long ago, he spoke to me in school and I had to be polite to him based upon my family and who they were. I didn't like him in the least - he gave me the creeps.)

Perhaps now that his father is no longer alive the pull isn't as great and many of those who could help him out of this - are no longer alive to do so.

If I eyewitnessed what she saw then I would shout it to the rooftops until somebody listened. if c-ville social services ignored it I would go farther.. to the press, to the state, the the boy scouts main office... Once the divorce was final she would have more credibility since she would no longer have a dog in the fight.

Hopefully the specialist who cleared him gets slammed with a hit to his reputation.

Nobody told the scouts until June of this year.

If others were harmed I hope they will now come forward .

In knowing both these people personally, and being there when they went through the whole divorce proceedings, I can tell you, it was very ugly. I know that Morgan is a strong and well-headed woman that went through a very hard time during her divorce with Watkins. She would not bring something like this forward if it was a lie. She was made out to be this villain to the court system, but she was nothing of the sort.

@Ponce De leon
If you knew the couple, then you would know that Morgan was not able to speak because her accusations were not recognized in court, and because Watkins does not look like the type of person to commit this type of crime. Sure he can give you the willies, but he does not look to be that type of person. If this didn't come to light and she was still trying to bring this out into the open... Do you know what people would probably say? "Why is she still trying to hurt this man? Isn't the already ugly divorce enough?" Her rantings would just make her out to be the crazed ex-wife out to harm his reputation.

I also want to remind people that comment and read this article... These two people raised two wonderful children that are now adults that have to see this splashed all over the internet and the news, Remember that they are hurting too, and they need support and reminded that they are wonderful people and that their parents actions do not reflect onto their life and their choices.

This has happened here in Charlottesville before. A prominent man is accused of child sexual abuse, the accusation can't be proved so the accuser is punished by the court in the divorce/custody hearing.

Heilberg can say whatever he wants. When a child sexual abuser commits this kind of crime, THAT is when the nuclear bomb goes off.

This would not be the last judge to sweep these accusations under the rug. Shame on anyone that helps those that prey on children.

"is there anything worse than being accused of being a pedophile? I can't think of it."

UGH. These attorneys are sickening. Being a victim of a pedophile is far worse than being accused of being a pedophile.

I hope when all of this comes to light we find out if the victim was directly asked by social services and his parents and what his response was. If he chose to lie then we need to find out why and try and prevent that behavior in the future. If she notified the Boy Scouts then we need to find out what steps they took or didn't take and why he was still allowed unfettered access even if the accusations were possibly false. The Boy Scouts should have defenitely erred on the side of caution as well as the parents of the victim. There was certainly enough evidence even with the viagra and a bank account for a parent to make sure that he was not alone with with the victim if nothing else but for the sake of appearance.

I still feel like she should continued a campagn to expose him.... even if it were clandestine...

Yeah, Bill Marshall, blame the woman for lies when she tells the story and isn’t believed and then blame her again for not doing enough when her story turns out to have merit and nothing was done because she wasn’t believed in the first place. NICE.

When I received word that Albemarle police would be announcing the arrest of a former scout leader for forcible sodomy, my first thought was "Dave Watkins". My son was a scout in his troop. There was no evidence and no reports from my son that Mr. Watkins did anything sexually inappropriate with him. However, I personally witnessed what I thought to be psychological abuse of the boys by Mr. Watkins; yelling at scouts and being very overbearing in his dealings with them. This behavior was witnessed by the other adult leaders in the troop, one of which is now the scoutmaster. I reported Mr. Watkins behavior to the district scout executive in Waynesboro; behavior within the scout setting and other behavior in a public setting which I deemed inappropraite for a mentor to adolescent boys . Mr. Watkins gloated to me that no action was taken by the executive, after three reports I made, with evidence of Mr. Watkins' behavior. There were other parents of scouts who apparently had the same feelings I did and, as I did, took their sons out of the troop. One of my concerns was Mr. Watkins spending time with scouts outside the troop setting without other adults present. He seemed to have a cadre of boys for which he purchased items and took on outings. My wife and I thought that Mr. Watkins had started the troop so he and his son could have friends, but indeed there may have been a darker purpose at work. The principle is innocent until proven guilty, but as others have noted in these comments, it is difficult to be around Mr. Watkins for any period of time with feeling a bit creeped out. I also find it difficult to believe the alleged behavior could have occured in the scout troop without other adult leaders suspecting anything. The current troop scoutmaster's comment on this situation indicated he hoped it did not reflect badly on scouting, no mention of the possible harm to the young man alleging the abuse. It is not mentioned in this article, but Mr. Watkins has been banned from scouting, not for the felony charge against him, but because of other inappropraite sexual activity reported to Charlottesville police in June of this year. Mr. Watkins created a very difficult and frustrating situation for my family during the short time my son was a member of his troop. And, even after my son quit scouting, Mr. Watkins continued to insert himself into my life because of his relationship with co-workers and his involvement with another community organization for which I volunteer. I was not aware of Mr. Watkins' peronal family history mentioned in other comments, but he always came across as having a privileged attitude and to consider himself above the rules. If he did commit the crime for which he is charged, I do hope the rules will apply to him this time.

I have been told by another scout leader that there is a strict policy that no leader will be alone with a scout . If other leaders knew he was violating this policy they too must be held accountable for any possible abuse that may have occurred .

A few notes...
1. What other money did they have coming in? A "nearly $100k" income is hardly enough to afford over 20 acres, a home, adding barns and kennel runs, etc. in Keswick.
2. Cville Native--in this world-class town, we are above terms like "blacksmith." We call them "smiths of color."
3. Headline writer: since we are entering years five through eight of the "blame Bush" furor, shouldn't the headline be "Nucular" and not "Nuclear?"
4. I am sure the intrepid reporters at The Hook are querying authorities on anything found on this guy's computers, correct?
5. If so many parents were creeped out by this guy for so long--and some even witnessed behavior for which this guy was reported to the district--said parents should have banded together and made it a cause to get rid of this guy. If he is a child of privilege (gosh, sounds looney to describe a guy in his 40s), then more effort was needed. It stands to reason that this guy would continue on his path. However, it also may parallel the Key Mall Abduction Case: if the one trying to do good is going to be crucified, then why should he bother trying at all? Sad but true.

(Sad commentary, kind of like a freelance photographer who would rather snap pictures of a man about to die versus dropping the camera and trying to save his life.)

R.I.P.: Brad Delp

Liberalace: I did not refer to Mr. Watkins as a "child of privilege". As noted in my comments my son was in the troop for a short time, during which I reported Mr. Watkins to the scout executive on three separate occasions. I discovered that other parents had removed their sons from the troop after my son had quit scouting. I did not have the time nor inclination to pursue a matter for which none of the scout leaders, from the troop level to the district executive level, showed any concern. And, at the time I was not aware of any accusations regarding sexual abuse. If I had known of even a hint of that, I would have pursued the matter further. My son was out, that was my main concern after my attempts to rectify the situation. Your "sad commentary" remark should be directed to social services, the courts and the police for not pursuing accusations more aggresively 7 years ago. I think it has been escalated to the level now to be resolved.

The real concern for not pursuing this should be the Biy Scout officials .

C'Ville Native: No no no! This man, David Watkins, is NOT the son of a former blacksmith in the Keswick area. Eddie WATSON was the blacksmith referenced... Eddie does indeed have a son named David who lives in Keswick, but WATSON is not the same as WATKINS. Please don't confuse the two, and be careful about smearing the name of an innocent family just because of the similarity of the names.

C'Ville Native almost never reports local facts correctly. So much for being a "native."

Dear "today"

I suppose that you feel her civic duty to stop a pedophile ended when her divorce papers were signed. So I guess if someone got fired from Michael Vicks employment that releieved them of a civic duty to report the dog fighting?

I wonder if the people who "pulled" their kids from the troop had been made aware of the accusations something would have been done sooner.

I am not persecuting her I am pointing out that once she no longer had people doubting her to gain a settlement than by still making the accusations she had MORE credibility. She could have made them anonomously, she could have followed up with the head of social services, she could have sent a letter to social services that said that they were "officially" warned and that she would testify at any CIVIL case against them for ignoring the accusations. She caught him naked with a kid...

If she had evidence of a serial rapist would people feel like she should just give up when not believed? Do you think she believed for one second that he stopped his sick behavior?
If someone in the community thought they knew who Morgan Harringtons killer was should they just "give up" when the police don't listen to their evidence?

This is why we have sandusky type crimes... the warning signs are there and just because the person you are dealing with doesn't listen doesn't mean you stop trying to save other kids.

This appears to be a breakdown of the system and when it all settles out there should be hell to pay by the government and the boy scouts...

She has suffered and maybe she feels vindicated by the truth finally coming out, but I wonder if more kids come out that could have been prevented will she truly feel like she did all she could. I do feel empathy for her plight as it is not what she asked for, but sometimes life places responsibilities on our shoulders that must be endured. There are a few hundred thousand vietnam vets who were drafted and tossed in a rice paddy who could explain the concept.

This is a horrific story, and I'm so sorry for all the victims have gone through. That certainly includes Mr Watkins' ex-wife and children.

Although I've been hesitant to say this, I'm another area resident who wasn't terribly surprised when he was named as the perpetrator. I was a customer of his about 10 years ago, and he always gave me the serious whim-whams. While he seemed very proficient at his job, there was something about him that skeeved me out. The impression I got was of extreme bottled up anger.

To those people who are armchair quarterbacking the wife's actions, you need to understand that if she had been shouting these accusations from the rooftops, or even just talking about it quietly, he could have sued her for slander and would have probably won. The court's decision essentially gave him all the power he needed to prevail.

What happened to her used to be fairly common. My own mother went through a similar scenario during her own divorce in the 1980s, and her husband got off free because of his wealth and standing in the community. I'm just sorry to see that attorneys are still using the "crazy vindictive woman" argument 20 years later. I hope that Ron Tweel, Dr Fracher, and the judge in this divorce case are ashamed of themselves for the way they vilified Mrs Morgan.

@ Bill Marshall-- Mrs Morgan did a hell of a lot more to make people aware of this danger than Ron Tweel. Dr Fracher, and the judge did... but you're blaming HER? She called social services despite being raked over the coals by the court system. You don't know who else in the area she might have contacted. Save your ire for the powerful men who helped David Watkins hide in plain sight.

The judge ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to prove her allegations. I saw the ruling. I guess you didn’t read some of the earlier comments when this story came out stating she was crazy, bitter, etc. People are still judging her. Do you think they really would have given more credence to her allegations because the divorce was over? No, they would have said she was still trying to ruin him, just as some have now, many years later. I can understand the defeat she felt in not being believed. You don’t know, she may have been threatened with a defamation suit if she continued, that is quite common. Judging her for moving on instead of focusing on him is wrong.

She told a friend about the allegations, and the friend called police. That is how the allegations became public. The wife didn’t make them public. Do you judge the friend she told, who repeated her allegations to the police, yet also didn’t pursue it? Do you judge the son? Do you judge the 2005 victim for not coming forward sooner? How about those parents who turned him into Boy Scouts and then just took their boys out of the troop? It is easy to sit in judgment without knowing all the circumstances. This woman could have been afraid afterward. We just don’t know.

Saw a well-known Virginia family attorney speak in a CLE presentation once. He volunteered that in his over twenty years of practice, allegations of child molestation were a dime a dozen in the divorce context, and in his experience such charges had never been substantiated. In fact, he said, the only time child abuse had been found in any of his cases, neither parent had actually alleged it.

In other words, Watkins might be a creep, but I'm not how much weight his ex-wife's allegations should be given

Quit blaming the scouts. No one told them about sexual abuse until this June.

I DO judge them all... if I was FACTUALLY aware of a grown man sleeping naked with young boys with 180 hits of viagra I would have made damn sure that the word got out even if I posted it anonomusly online or on posters on telephone poles in the middle of the night. I don't know if she was strong enough mentally to carry out the task but I cannot believe that she had no one in her life that would help her bring this man down. I think with even the people posting here about how believable her allegations are that had they heard these rumors or aellgations that they would have stepped forward to at least draw some attention to the circumstance.

We should not have to learn about these situations from an adult who comes forward 6 years later....

I understand feeling the need to judge. This is a very aggravating case. How could she and others who knew about the abuse just give up? The truth is no one ever did give up. Although many of us ( She is well supported by family and friends who also believed that many boys could be in danger) were aware of the possibility of being sued for slander... we all did what we could do. Friends in Social Services, Region Ten, and both Charlottesville and Albemarle police departments were repeatedly contacted. All of us were assured that NOTHING would be done in terms of an investigation of Watkins until a child came forward. I personally contacted someone every few months... I was told by many to quit talking about it. I never did. You were not there Mr. Marshall, you have no idea how much was done to protect the boys in question. If only SOMEONE had listened before now.

dear concerned

Why don't you contact the Hook and have them write an article documenting all of your effortd including the names of those who told you to stop talking about it....

let the world know WHO chose to not do proper research and investigations to get this exsposed....

This could turn out to be another international news story about coverups or blind eyes...

Let the people who didn't do their jobs pay the price.

Hey concerned did you ever tell Michael Hesbach at the Boy Scouts?

He must be one of those same-sex marriage democrats.

Dear defender,

Thank you for clearing that up!

AngryOldMan, I call BS.

Child sex abuse allegations are NOT a dime a dozen in any context, and this lie has been propagated throughout the legal community by those that have a vested interest in perpetrating this myth.

People wonder how these men get away with these crimes for so long. It is because of the lies that are spread about these allegations.

In almost every single case that comes to light, there is an allegation that was refuted or covered up. What does that tell you? The facts are that these crimes have been covered up for decades, even centuries, by those that reflexively assume that the accuser must be lying.

And this is the ONLY crime where this assumption is made. Child sexual abusers have been pulling the wool over the eyes of people like AngryOldMan for years and people that think like AngryOldMan are a big reason why this phenomenon is so widespread.

Why do Ponce De Leon and Bill Marshall choose to judge all of the people involved in this case that did not molest any children?

Why is their ire for the actual perpetrator misdirected to these other people.

This smearing of the accuser is exactly what occurs again and again in cases like these. The hook is well aware of other cases very similar to this one.

The fear of being sued, the fact that your name gets dragged through the mud, the fact that judges are trained to not believe these allegations (as is so well exemplified by AngryOldMan) and issue gag orders to protect the reputation of the perpetrator, these are all real things.

It's a sad, sad story every time, and every time the pattern is the same. Every time, the people other than the perpetrator receive the ire and ill will of those that want to diminish the severity of this crime.

Blue pills to be used for sodomy on minors?How diabolical.

This is all you need to about people in this community and the HOOK! someone that RAPE'S children gets less attention/comments than someone that has junk on there property. What the hell is the wrong with you people! I bet you if he had a pile of TIRES on his land the linch mob would be out for blood, but rape a child! ahh no problem.

There is no problem in taking care of child RAPIST! you cut there NUTS off, and and you BRAND there face for everyone to see. I will bet my life that makes the next mother fucker think twice before putting his/her hands on a child.