Teen describes illicit relationship

A 17-year-old student spent several hours on the witness stand Tuesday
describing to jurors a months-long illicit relationship with an Iola
High School band director whom she said claimed to be in love with her.

The testimony came as Brazos County prosecutors began presenting their
case against 28-year-old William Benjamin Watson, who could face up to
20 years in prison on two felony charges of sexual assault of a child.

Watson befriended the teen while she was having trouble with other
students at Iola High in 2005, and he began frequently dining with her
and her mother at their home after she moved to the Bryan-College
Station area in 2006, prosecutors John Brick and Brian Baker said
during opening statements.

The dinners soon progressed to illegal sexual activities between Watson
and the teen, who was then 15, prosecutors said, adding that the
teacher later admitted to a relationship during a taped interview with
investigators.

"He was replacing the role of the man in the house," Brick said, adding
that Watson took advantage of that role. "She did not have that
relationship with her father."

Conroe-based defense attorney Andrea Kolski declined to immediately
present an opening statement. She will have another opportunity to do
so when the defense begins presenting its case.

Watson was arrested last January, after investigators confronted him at
his new job teaching band at Garrison High School near Nacogdoches.

During the interview, investigators also took pictures of his body and
conducted a search of his house, collecting mementos such as framed
photos of him embracing the student.

On Tuesday, prosecutors showed the framed photos to jurors along with
photos of his exposed backside. A birth mark on his buttocks and
stretch marks match those described by the girl before the search was
conducted, they said.

During the teen's testimony, she described a secret eight-month
relationship that started with a crush on a teacher and her first kiss.

"I felt like I had butterflies in my stomach the whole entire time,"
she said of first getting to know the teacher. "He would ask me about
what's going on in my life. He just acted like the friend I didn't ever
have."

The teen's mother knew the two had kissed, but she thought it was a
one-time occasion, the teen said, adding that her mother would tease
her about the crush. Although the teen thought she was in love with
Watson, she initiated the breakup shortly after her 16th birthday, she
said, explaining that the pressure of the secret was starting to wear
on her.

She decided to make an outcry months later, she said, after thinking she spotted Watson at the mall with another student.

"I thought the only younger person he'd try to be around was me," she said.

"It's not going to stop," she recalled thinking to herself. "I need to be the one who does something about it."

During cross-examination, Kolski suggested that the student was a good
actress. She described multiple gifts the teen had given Watson,
including a flat-screen TV, and suggested life would have been better
for her if a relationship was taking place.

"It could have been better, if I had a normal high school relationship," the teen responded.

The defense also pointed to text messages the teen acknowledged sending
to the defendant as recently as this fall in which she said she still
loved him.

The two had talked about getting married around the same time, but the
teen never seriously considered it, she said during the
cross-examination.

Prosecutors are expected to continue calling witnesses when the trial
resumes at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the 85th District Courtroom.

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