Former Sheffield teacher Amanda Watkins on trial for rape, sodomy against student — (WHNT News 19)

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WHNT News 19

Claire Aiello & Beth Jett

8:51 a.m. CDT, November 2, 2011

 TUSCUMBIA, AL­

In Colbert County, testimony continues in the trial of a former Sheffield teacher who is charged with rape and sodomy against a student. The defense called a psychologist to testify about Amanda Watkins’ mental state. The prosecution also called the teenage boy who was involved.

Normally, the prosecution presents its case first, but because of the psychologist’s schedule, the defense started off the day by calling the psychologist. Frankie Preston, of Huntsville, testified that he saw Watkins for an evaluation on January 25, 2010. She was arrested the previous month, on December 19.

Preston testified Watkins took a test in his office, and the answers were put in a computer. A computer program generated results saying Watkins suffered from major depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder, mixed personality disorder, borderline schizophrenia, chronic anxiety, fibromyalgia, hypertension and substance abuse.

Preston said Watkins suffered from these disorders at the time of her arrest.

Colbert County District Attorney Bryce Graham challenged the test results, saying they lacked precision because they were generated by a computer.

The defense emphasized Watkins’ mental disorders are a result of her being raped when she was 16 years old. They say she went to a hospital after it happened, and doctors prescribed her medication. They say her bouts with depression began at that time.

The prosecution pointed out that Watkins’ family has paid Preston $6,000 to $7,000 for treatment since she was arrested.

The prosecution also emphasized that even though Watkins suffered from these ailments, she taught children for six years.

“People can be mentally ill and still function at certain jobs,” the psychologist replied.

Later in the day, the victim in the case took the stand for the prosecution. The 17-year-old was 15 when a police officer says he caught him and Watkins, then 38, in the back of a car having inappropriate relations.

In testimony, Watkins’ former student said she refused his first request for sex that day, but then complied when he persisted.

The teen said he asked Watkins for sex, and at first, she declined, saying “we would get into a lot of trouble.” However, when the teen said he wouldn’t tell anyone, he said Watkins complied.

Defense attorneys suggested the boy took advantage of Watkins, since she was mentally ill with eight different disorders.

Watkins’ father has been in court with her, holding a Bible as his daughter wiped away tears during the teen’s testimony.

“I’m not defending her, what was done is wrong, it’s wrong. But there are reasons also,” said Delmer Duboise.

Duboise says Watkins’ problems started at age 16 when she was raped, and didn’t report it.

“She is sick… I haven’t missed a week carrying her to the doctors,” said Duboise. “I should have before this happened, but we didn’t realize it until this happened how sick she was.”

After the incident with the student in December 2009, Watkins went to a local hospital and had a rape kit administered to her. Prosecutors say when Watkins was with a nurse at that time, she said “I did something I shouldn’t have done.” District Attorney Graham said that statement shows Watkins knew right from wrong.

Testimony will continue on Wednesday.