Vigo County Recorder Raymond L. Watts was charged Friday in Superior Court Division 3 with stalking and official misconduct, class-D felonies, and misdemeanor battery.
A no-contact order also was issued against the 60-year-old Watts to stay away from his 32-year-old county employee who is his accuser. Watts, a former chief of police in Terre Haute, was ordered not to carry any firearms, said county Prosecutor Terry Modesitt.Watts, after waiving arraignment, was taken to the Vigo County jail by State Police, where he was booked and released after posting $500 bail. He declined comment.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison and maximum fine of $10,000 on each felony and up to 180 days and maximum fine up to $1,000 for the class-B misdemeanor battery.
A court date of March 30 was set; however, Judge David Bolk removed himself from the case and asked the state Supreme Court to appoint a special judge. Once a special judge is appointed, a jury trial can be scheduled.State Police began an investigation of Watts on Wednesday, concluding it on Friday, Modesitt said.
“The investigation is continuing,” Modesitt said. “I can’t comment on specifics as it is a formal pending case.”
Indiana State Police Sgt. J. Troy Stanton said at a Friday afternoon news conference that several witnesses were interviewed “and I feel that there are more individuals out there that have information. We would urge that those individuals come forward and talk with us.”
Modesitt said the filing of charges “has no effect” on the ability of Watts to remain in his county office, as the county recorder at this time has not been found guilty in a court.
“As prosecutor, I cannot have any effect on him staying in office. We filed the charges,” Modesitt said.“I am going to do the right thing and it doesn’t matter who it is. If there is a case that should be filed and should be prosecuted, that’s what I intend on doing,” Modesitt said. “We look at every case as if we don’t know the names involved at all and that is the way we handled this case.”
“I would also like to thank those brave people who came forward and gave comments,” the prosecutor said.
The Tribune-Star story includes some graphic descriptions of the no-good Watts was supposedly up to in his office with regard to female employees, including unwanted touching and harassment, inappropriate consensual sexual relations with at least one female employee and stalking. When an accuser stepped forward, Watts allegedly began calling her the "bag lady", assigning her demeaning tasks, and curtailed lunch periods and breaks for all employees in his office, telling them they could thank the accuser. One employee claims she and Watts, while engaged in an extramarital affair, had sex many times in public places, including a movie theater parking lot.
An investigator for the county has recommended Watts resign from his position. As Modisett noted, Watts cannot be forcefully removed unless he is convicted of the charges. It's hard to believe Watts used to be the chief of police for the city's police department.