PHOENIX – A suspected rapist whose conviction was reversed in 2010 after a legal challenge by the Arizona Justice Project now faces ten counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. John Kenneth Watkins (D.O.B. 6/3/1983) was arrested on the new charges on October 7, 2014, after admitting that he had been accessing child pornography on his work computer. Watkins is a registered sex offender on lifetime probation for a previous child pornography conviction.
“We strongly rejected this defendant’s claim of innocence and opposed the bogus arguments that led to his release, knowing it was only a matter of time before he would re-offend,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “We take no satisfaction in being correct in our prediction,” he added.
Watkins was arrested in June 2003 after a rape victim and a witness identified him in a photo lineup as the assailant. He was accused of forcing the victim to the ground in a Gilbert neighborhood and sexually assaulting her. He fled the scene after a friend of the victim was able to intervene and stop the attack. After initially denying his involvement, Watkins ultimately confessed to the crime and wrote a letter of apology to the victim. He pled guilty to one count of sexual assault and was sentenced to 14 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections. He was also sentenced to a term of lifetime probation on a separate conviction of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.
In 2010, with the assistance of the Arizona Justice Project, Watkins petitioned the court to perform DNA testing on evidence collected in the sexual assault case. While the results of the tests were inconclusive based on the State’s theory of the case, other difficulties associated with a retrial led prosecutors to seek a dismissal of the charges.
On December 16, 2010 the court dismissed the case without prejudice and Watkins was released after serving 7-and-a-half years of his original sentence. Following his recent arrest on child pornography charges, Watkins was ordered held in custody on a $100,000 bond secured appearance bond. His next court appearance is an Initial Pretrial Conference scheduled for December 10, 2014.
An indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.