Teacher accused of sexual relationship with student - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Stamford High School teacher accused of sexual relationship with student

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The following photo of Danielle Watkins was provided by the Stamford Police Department. The following photo of Danielle Watkins was provided by the Stamford Police Department.

An English teacher in Stamford is accused of having a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student.

In June, police received a tip of a possible inappropriate relationship between a Stamford High School teacher and a student.

Police interviewed the student, who said he had "numerous sexual encounters" with 32-year-old Danielle Watkins, of Norwalk, from September 2013 until June 2014. The student told police that the encounters occurred in Watkins' vehicle during school hours, but off of the campus grounds. 

According to police, the teacher sent naked pictures of herself via text message to the student.

"We got about 2,000 text messages back and forth from the victim, some naked text messages that were sent along with about 100 phone calls," said Lt. Diedrich Hohn, of Stamford police.

Police said the 18-year-old student needed to pass Watkins' class in order to graduate, and she used that to continue the relationship.

The student told police that he tried to stop the relationship with Watkins, but she hit him, and used her status as a teacher to "threaten to fail the victim if the encounters did not continue." Watkins accused the student of being in a relationship with another person.

Police said despite the threats, the sexual encounters between the two was consensual.

At the end of June, the student told a school counselor, who then told officials at Department of Children and Families and the Stamford Board of Education.

The student also stated that Watkins gave him and his friend marijuana to smoke on and off school grounds during class time. A 15-year-old student also told police that Watkins gave him marijuana and rolling papers on "numerous occasions." Watkins would smoke with the student in her car on campus grounds during school hours.

"They met up in the parking lot. They drove off. The marijuana usage happened on school grounds and off of school grounds," Hohn said.

Watkins is also accused of letting the 18-year-old student use her vehicle, even though she knew he did not have a license.

Police stopped Watkins while she was driving in Norwalk on June 27. During the traffic stop, police seized marijuana from the vehicle.

Watkins, who became "combative with police," was arrested and charged with interfering with a search warrant and possession of marijuana charges.

Police also seized evidence from the motor vehicle stop including Watkins' phone, which investigators said she tried to hide during the search. Police also searched her home on that day.

Watkins turned herself into police on Thursday.

Stamford Public Schools Superintendent Winifred Hamilton said Watkins has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

"We take these issues very seriously and always act to protect the welfare of our students," Hamilton said.

Hamilton added that the school is cooperating with the police investigation.

Neighbors of Watkins said that they were shocked to hear about the details and said she is a perfect mother.

"I don't believe what they're saying," said neighbor Minerva Umbierre, who added that she always sees Watkins playing with her children outside.

Eyewitness News talked exclusively to one of Watkins' former students Sal Dipreta.

"I don't know if that's completely true because Ms. Watkins never seemed like that," Dipreta said, adding that he thought she was the best English teacher he has ever had.

"She was very passionate about what she did with the class, and everything she did she put a lot into it. She never left anybody behind."

Watkins was charged with two counts of second-degree sexual assault and sale of marijuana and risk of injury to a minor. She is being held on a $25,000 bond and will be arraigned in Stamford Superior Court on July 31.

The states attorney was also notified about the incident.

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