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On a horrible morning in November, a woman in Waddy walked into a room and found a grown man with his hands down the pants of her 6-year-old daughter. She reacted with the sort of rush of rage that would embrace most parents.
“I wanted to kill him,” she said.
She quickly removed the child from the room and then reached for a weapon.
“I grabbed the first gun I could find,” she said.
She aimed at the man and began to pull the trigger over and over again, not stopping until well after the ammunition was spent. The man, cried and cowered, yet survived only because she had grabbed a BB (pistol/rifle?) rather than a more lethal weapon.
When the woman realized she had shot BBs, she grabbed the gun by its barrel and began to beat the man in the head.
Crying, screaming as she bludgeoned him, he offered no resistance.
This was the scene last November, when Anthony Watkins, 37, was arrested and charged with sexual abuse of a child under 12 years old.
Waddy is a community located near the intersections of Anderson, Franklin and Shelby counties.
The names of the child and her parents are being withheld to protect the girl’s privacy, but their awful account portrays the sort of nightmare that many parents fear.
When Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies arrived, Watkins admitted to police that he repeated this act on four separate occasions. He is lodged in the Shelby County Detention Center under a $50,000 full cash bond, charged with four counts of first-degree sexual abuse.
The bruises from the mother’s blows are still evident in the photograph police took that day.
Watkins has not commented other than to the officers who arrested him. He has declined requests for interviews, and his court-appointed attorney has not responded to phone messages.
But though more than two months have passed, the child’s parents are clear in their memories, distraught over the awful realization that this happened to their child right under their very noses.
“How could I have been stupid enough to trust him with my baby?” her father said. “But there was absolutely no indication that he would ever do anything like this.”
Said the mother, “Why would he do this? How could he do this?
“My husband and I are so shocked because we checked him out thoroughly. He had absolutely no record of any kind. And he was so nice and helpful.”
Shelby County Sheriff’s detective Jason Rice said that at least Watkins is behind bars.
“We’ve got him off the street, and that’s the important thing,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean the end of this ordeal. There could be a trial, and that would force all involved to relive those details.
Rice said he will do everything possible to prevent the child from having to testify in court about what happened.
“It’s a case-by-case basis,” he said. “The age of the victim is taken into account, as well as their maturity level. But generally, we try not to subject the child to any more trauma. And this child has already been interviewed, so hopefully, nothing more will be necessary.”
Watkins is scheduled for a court date on Friday.
In the meantime, the family is trying to heal and trying to understand how this all could have happened to their little girl.
“He was the nicest person you’d ever want to meet,” the father said.