A former Boy Scouts troop leader will serve serious prison time for child sex crimes.
David Watkins, 51, learned his punishment Friday after he admitted to sexually abusing young boys. He will serve 30 years behind bars for 36 counts of carnal knowledge with a minor between 13 and 15 years old.
Watkins stood up in court Friday to ask for leniency, but prosecutors say he deserved the severe sentence.
“Clearly this man did everything he could to hide and present a façade of trust,” said Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Darby Lowe.
Prosecutors say Watkins betrayed the trust of his community after manipulating several boy scouts into sex acts between 2006 and 2009.
“The innocence and vulnerability of the children, the fact that he was their trusted scout leader, that the community, the parents, the children - all of them trusted him,” Lowe said.
Friday, five witnesses, including a family with two of Watkins' former scouts, took the stand to defend that trust. They spent time talking about his "exceptional leadership and generosity.”
But Lowe argued Watkins showed no remorse for his actions and actually blamed his victims.
“He's not getting the gravity of the violation of his trust and a violation of his position as an adult, as a scoutmaster, as a leader just continues to make the crime what it is - so heinous,” Lowe said.
In court, Lowe cited parts of a written statement by Watkins where he says one of the victims initiated most acts and he felt the boy almost raped him.
The victims voiced a very different situation through their impact statements, stressing Watkins stole their childhood and innocence.
“The court recognized and discussed the fact that the difference in power, the difference in authority, and the difference that you're an adult makes a kind of pressure and belies our society's trust in adults that makes it offensive,” Lowe said.
Albemarle investigators say it's important for parents to talk with their kids and call for help if needed.
“Our message here is don't be afraid to come forward. There's the obvious re-victimization but we want help. We want to work through this with you,” said Sgt. Darrell Byers with the Albemarle County Police Department.
“Parents always need to be aware of what's going on in their children's lives. Parents need to talk to their children, they need to be involved in their lives,” Lowe said.
The family of one victim released a statement Friday afternoon in hopes of helping others come forward. They thanked Albemarle investigators for their work, saying “Our brave son and these brave and caring individuals put a monster behind bars.”
Statement from the family of one of the victims in this case:
We wish to express our heartfelt thanks and deepest gratitude to the Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney's office and to the Albemarle County Police and Detectives who worked passionately and tirelessly to bring this dangerous predator, David Brian Watkins, aka "Scoutmaster Dave", to justice. We are indebted to them for their compassion, their fundamental decency, and their unwavering professionalism. Our son bravely stood up and accepted his civic duty to report the heinous crimes against him. We are proud, grateful and in awe of his efforts and the efforts of the outstanding and honorable women and men of our county who, together, built a case that would remove this dangerous sexual predator from society.
We are hopeful that our son's willingness to come forward and report the crimes against him will make it easier for other victims of sexual abuse to come forward and report the crimes against them. We know that reporting these crimes can be traumatizing and a form of secondary, ongoing victimization. We have been overwhelmed with the care, respect and sensitivity afforded to our son and to our family by every member of Albemarle County's working teams.
Our brave son and these brave and caring individuals put a monster behind bars.
Please take a moment to consider the prevalence of sexual crimes. Please don't allow yourself to think that you and your family are immune from sexual abuse and predation. The prevalence of sexual abuse against minors is staggering. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen. Most of these crimes will be committed by someone known to the child.
One in four girls. And one in six boys. Please share these statistics and help start a simple campaign of discussion to educate others about the prevalence of child sexual abuse. Mending a culture of rape will require, above all, awareness and honest dialog.
Education, communication and prevention are essential. Talk to your kids. Ask your kids if anything unusual has happened to them. Please help work to better educate our families and children about grooming and other identifiable predatory behaviors. And please help to pressure institutions into more sensible policies that take an aggressive approach to protecting our children rather than a focused effort to protect themselves, the institutions.