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.

Jennifer Smith/MetroNews

Former Kanawha County teacher John Watt III, 73, pleaded guilty Friday to sexually assaulting students in the 1980s.

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.

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  • mcKinley student

    I remember Mr. Watt at McKinley back in about 73 and 74 - telling me about boys I knew from Spring Hill coming to his house on weekends, watching movies and doing things they should not do. Good to see it finally caught up with him. I often wondered if it ever did and now it has He never touched me, but I can see how teachers do that, they come across as cool teachers and take advantage of kids. Hope he rots in jail and burns in hell!

  • Never Forget

    This is very similar to how the Kanawha County BOE protected Don Lucas in the 80's and 90's while he preyed on young girls at George Washington Junior High School, Stonewall Middle School, etc. They just kept ignoring that he was a serial predator and would just move him to another school.

  • Melissa

    this has been a long time coming and it saddens me to know that there were previous complaints and nothing was done. Let's start with the Kanawha County Board of Education!

  • Mike

    May he suffer greatly in prison.

  • Kim

    He is probably sick and wants the free medical he will get in prison.

  • No shocker

    He was transferred to Spring Hill Jr High in the late 60s.. While there he encouraged male student council members to ride around in his corvette and entertained them in his home. I can't believe the school didn't put a stop to this.The rumors were there then. VP Jim Morris would't allow students to hold hands or walk together but allowed this?

    • Jack

      It was Bert Morris, not Jim. He was too busy having an extra-marital affair with the Reeves sisters/teachers to bother with Watt at SHJH. Bert died this past Xmas Day. It was a great present that I only wish I had received many years ago.

      • mcKinley student

        Bert was principal at McKinley in about 73 and 74 - same time as the pedophile!
        They must have known too much on each other to say anything about the other creep!

  • anonymous

    All that is here is truthful...he taught science...his classroom was the first on the left as you walked up the East stairs...I was the secretary/treasurer on the student council (but never could figure how I won...had just moved there in 8th grade prior to the election) ...

    • anonymous

      This article has brought up many memories...I'm so sorry to the victims that I did not say was a different time and I didn't think anyone would believe...I'm so sorry..

      • mcKinley student

        I know the feeling of knowing, and somehow it being way back there and not knowing what to do - glad he is in jail!

      • anonymous too

        Don't beat yourself up. You are so correct in saying that it was a different time. I hope that this brings some closure to this part of your life.

      • anonymously ticked

        Don't ever think that because of your inability to speak up had anything to do with this happening to someone else!!! You can not play the what if over & over in your mind. Unfortunately the likelihood that it would have stopped him is very unlikely! If it did anything it would have only made him pause for a brief time, THEY NEVER STOP ABUSING!! Please don't hold yourself responsible for something that was not your fault!

      • Rusty

        I was a part of a group of boys molested by a youth minister at the Washington Street Church of Christ in St. Albans around the same time. Shame kept us from reporting him. The pulpit preachers wife was on the Kanawha County school board and was very political so the church just buried the story and simply let the youth minister go home to Texas. I've never gotten over it.

  • BAC

    The way society is rapidly going, what he did will soon be considered OK, legal. Sex with minors was considered normal in ancient Greece and elsewhere and our society is returning to those "morals" now so you can expect it. Probably sooner than you want or expect.

  • thornton

    Hopefully, the transferring school to school angle is investigated in the hopes of determining how long this activity was ignored by his employers and union.

    The "finding God" schtick is a convenient ruse that many abusers learn to adopt when it suits them.

  • northforkfisher

    The sad thing of this is the trust of the public being abused. Teenagers have enough dealing with bullying, peer pressure, and plain ole fitting in.
    I know of two men who were abused by a teacher at a young age, and they are always in trouble and jail.

  • Bob

    Wonder if the school sysytem will be sued like the Catholic Church for protecting him all these years?

    • wvtd

      the school system and teachers union did the same thing the catholic church did. move the abuser to another job and told no one of his history. the only way to teach these institutions a lesson is to make them pay a lot of money for their actions and inactions. this kind of abuse destroys many young persons lives to the point of suicide or drug abuse. make them pay!

      • BAC

        Make "them" pay?? You don't understand that when public officials, school systems, and such are found liable, it is the TAXPAYERS who pay the award.

        • Uncle SAM

          Simple!! you make the Teacher's Union pay... and pay dearly.. You make them pay until they have NO desire to defend those guilty of such perversion.. And that goes for same sex or opposite sex seduction... As a teacher you want to have sex with a student? then expect to lose everything you have worked for,, no insurance, no retirement, no pension, NO JOB!!

          • wow


          • Uncle SAM

            Oh,, and prison,,, lots and lots of prison time!!

        • Wow

          Anyone in the school system who knew and did nothing or covered it up, should lose their retirement. That way it not only does not cost the tax payers but saves them money. If this make it hard on them, let them starve.

        • RANDY

          So what? Turn the other cheek? Stupid advice 2000 years ago-stupid now.

        • caller

          Got that right.

  • WVU86

    Nice that Watt has found religion. Hopefully God will bring him comfort as he serves time in prison for his crimes.

    • wvtd

      it seems like a lot of convicts find religion after getting caught. GOD warns people about committing crimes against children in very plain language.