CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A former Kanawha County teacher pleaded guilty Friday to sexually assaulting three students dating back more than 30 years.
John Irvine Watt III, 73, waived his right to an indictment and instead pleaded guilty to an information in Kanawha County Circuit Court. The plea agreement includes two counts of third-degree sexual assault and one count of crimes against nature.
The crimes date back to 1981. Assistant Prosecutor Charles Miller said it wasn’t until recently that one of the victims came forward.
“While he was a student at McKinley Jr. High School in St. Albans, [this student] was sexually abused by one of the teachers and that is Mr. Watt,” according to Miller.
During the investigation, two more former students of Watt came forward, with similar information.
“They were abused both at school and at Mr Watt’s residence over a period of years while they were in junior high,” explained the assistant prosecutor.
Watt admitted in court that he performed sexual intercourse as well as oral sex and masturbation on three students under the age of 16.
Miller stressed the tragic part of this case is that Watt had a history of sexual assault within the Kanawha County School System dating back well before the crimes that took place in 1981.
“He had a complaint filed against him by a parent of a young man at Woodrow Wilson Jr. High back in 1967,” said Miller.
According to Watt’s personnel file, no action was taken against him other than transferring Watt to a different junior high.
Watt told Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jim Stucky that he has suffered from depression and was, at one point, under the care of a psychiatrist. He said he has since found religion and “God changed me.”
Watt will be sentenced March 31. He will serve the two counts of third-degree sexual assault consecutively and the one count of crimes against nature concurrently. Each crime carries a sentence of 1-5 years in prison.