Crime, Law Schools, Minority Issues, Police, Racism, UVA Law

More Drama From UVA Law School

UVA looks tranquil -- but looks can be deceiving. (Yes, I know this is a picture of the Rotunda on Central Grounds, not the Law School. But I took it myself, when I spoke at UVA a few years ago, and wanted to use it.)

Just out of curiosity, I took a look at the academic calendar for UVA Law School. It turns out that they’re right in the middle of spring exams (which started on Monday, May 2, and finish on Friday, May 13). I can’t imagine trying to study for or take exams amidst this kind of upheaval.

And, as it turns out, the Johnathan Perkins controversy isn’t the only thing happening at the law school right now. On Friday, a 2L at UVA, Daniel Paul Watkins, was charged with stalking and assault by university police.

UPDATE (8/31/11): Daniel Watkins has been cleared of all charges.

This incident is separate from L’Affaire Perkins, but some suggest there’s a connection….

Here’s the story, via Newsplex:

On Friday, May 6, University of Virginia Police charged 22-year-old UVa Law student Daniel Paul Watkins with stalking and assault.

The charges come after his ex-girlfriend and female classmate reported being assaulted and threatened by Watkins in February. The student first reached out to the Office of the Dean of Students to get an administrative protective order out of fear for her physical safety.

On Thursday, May 5, the victim reported the incident to University Police after Watkins allegedly failed to comply with the no-contact order. The victim reported that she was assaulted by him on February 13 and that he has continued to intimidate and stalk her.

On May 6, University Police, the Virginia State Police and the Albemarle County Police executed a search warrant at Watkins’ Albemarle County residence. He was taken into custody without incident and has been charged with one count of stalking and one count of assault.

What is the Perkins connection? Multiple sources tell Above the Law that Watkins and Perkins are very close friends, and some suggest that Watkins may have played a role in Perkins’s fabricated tale of racial profiling (but the interesting theories we’ve heard are not yet ready for prime time — we need additional corroboration).

Like Johnathan Perkins, Daniel Watkins is an African-American male who has been previously involved in on-campus, race-related controversies. From Newsplex:

Watkins was at the center of national news reports in the fall of 2008 as an undergraduate student at Abilene Christian University in Texas. While he was student body president, Watkins, an African-American, reported finding a noose on his office chair. A police investigation ensued but no arrests were made.

Six months later, Watkins was ousted as student body president by the university’s student-government association. Twenty-five of 32 students who participated in the impeachment hearing voted in favor of the move. Students who filed complaints against Watkins said he had been disrespectful, derogatory and didn’t adhere to the school’s ethical standards of conduct.

Watkins is the organizer of SUPRA, or Students United to Promote Racial Awareness. The group aims to promote understanding of racial diversity.

CORRECTION (5/11/11, 3 PM): According to one UVA alum, SUPRA has been around for a while (at least since 1994). So it’s not correct to say that Watkins “is the organizer of SUPRA” (emphasis added).

Is Johnathan Perkins also a member of SUPRA? If so, it seems the group is doing a better job of promoting racial tension than understanding.

According to Newsplex, Daniel Watkins was released on a $2,500 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in Albemarle County General District Court on Thursday, May 12, at 9 AM.

We’ll keep you posted of developments in Charlottesville. We ask that you, our readers and tipsters, keep us posted as well.

At the same time, we have some friendly advice for our UVA readers: despite all the campus craziness, please don’t neglect your studies, and be sure to get enough sleep. Good luck to all on exams.

UPDATE (10:30 PM): A close friend of Daniel Watkins, who knew him from college, had this to say in his defense:

This is truly shocking and astonishing, and from my knowledge of DP’s personality, it is completely out of character. He (like anyone) has emotions, but he is very calm, cool, and collected. While he was in the midst of his (very public) impeachment as SBA president he never shouted, threatened anyone, or even appeared to be violent. Moreover, when he and his fiance broke up (if memory serves me correctly) junior year at ACU he was rightfully sad, and disappointed like anyone else would be in the same situation, however I can never remember him being violent, or even the appearance thereof.

While I do not doubt the claims of the victim or of UVA police, I can guarantee you there is another side to the story, which has yet to surface. Don’t pass judgment too quickly. As a friend of DP’s I beg you to put something on the website encouraging people to keep an open mind as the investigation continues and his side of the story surfaces.

UPDATE (8/31/11): It turns out this friend was right. Daniel Watkins has been cleared of all charges.

UVa Law Student Charged with Stalking, Assaulting Classmate [Newsplex]
UVa law student charged with stalking [Daily Progress]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Johnathan Perkins
Prior ATL coverage of UVA Law School

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