The Stamford High School teacher accused of threatening to fail an 18-year-old student if he did not have sex with her, and of providing him and a friend with marijuana, was in a Danbury psychiatric hospital Thursday and unable to make her scheduled appearance at state Superior Court in Stamford to make a plea in her criminal case.
She is free on $100,000 bond, but according to Judge Erika Tindill, has been admitted to the BlueSky Behavioral Health center in Danbury, which offers services that range from treatement of mental health problems to addiction. She did not appear for an earlier arraignment on drug charges either, after she checked herself into the Silver Hill psychiatric hospital in New Canaan. Tindill rescheduled her court appearance for Aug 21.
A letter from a BlueSky employee to the criminal court clerk’s office said Watkins checked into the facility’s Extended Treatment Program on July 17. Although BlueSky is a treatment program that addresses both mental illness and substance abuse issues, Watkins is receiving treatment to address her mood and anxiety issues.
The letter also said she has been an active participant in the treatment and attends clinical groups five days a week as well as taking individual therapy and medication management.
Her Middlebury lawyer, Rob Serafinowicz, warned against unfairly judging Watkins.
“I think it is very important that people don’t jump to conclusions in a situation like this because they have to remember these are only allegations and nobody should make judgements until everything is made clear,” he said.
Police launched an investigation into the allegations on June 26 after the 18-year-old student appeared at police headquarters and provided a statement about the inappropriate relationship.
The victim allegedly told police he had numerous sexual encounters with Watkins, his English teacher, from the start of the school year in September 2013 to the end in June. He told police the encounters occurred in her car during school hours, but not on school grounds.
In addition, he told police Watkins provided him and a friend with marijuana and they would smoke it on and off school grounds during school hours.
A day after the student reported the allegations, police executed a search warrant of Watkins’s car during a motor vehicle stop in Norwalk. During the stop, police said Watkins tried to hide her cellphone under the passenger seat of the car and she became verbally combative after marijuana was discovered in the vehicle. At the time, she was charged with interfering with a search warrant and possession of marijuana.
Police seized the car for a forensic examination, and a search of her phone revealed more than 2,000 text messages, naked pictures of herself and hundreds of calls between her and the student, police said.
During the investigation, police said they also identified a 15-year-old student who Watkins allegedly provided with marijuana. In a statement to police, the student said Watkins provided him with marijuana and rolling papers on numerous occasions and he smoked marijuana with her in her car during school hours on school grounds.
When interviewed by police in June, the older boy whom Watkins is accused of having sex with told detectives the relationship began consensually but then Watkins began to use the threat of failing him to compel him to continue the sexual activity and accompanying drug use when he tried to end the relationship.