Former UAF basketball player pleads no contest in assault

Posted: Friday, July 05, 2002

FAIRBANKS - A former University of Alaska Fairbanks basketball player charged with kidnapping, raping and assaulting his former girlfriend could serve five years in prison, after reaching a plea agreement.

Cameron Watts, 19, was set to go to trial Monday. He reached an agreement with prosecutors Wednesday in state Superior Court in Fairbanks.

Watts pleaded no contest to one count each of attempted kidnapping, second-degree sexual assault and third-degree assault in connection with incidents that occurred last Nov. 2 and 21.

"Basically, he's accepting some level of culpability for each incident," said prosecutor Sara Gehrig.

Watts is scheduled to be sentenced in October.

Watts, a former Lathrop High School standout and a freshman backup point guard for the Nanooks at the time, was arrested by UAF police on Nov. 22 based on allegations of his then-girlfriend.

She told police he had hidden in the trunk of her car armed with a knife, then had ordered her to drive to a secluded spot so the two could talk. UAF police said the two spent the next six hours together driving to various points in town. During that time he threatened her with the knife, before he let her go.

She also said that on Nov. 2, Watts had become angry with her and threw her on her roommate's bed, tied her up with shoestrings and taped her mouth shut - leaving only a breathing hole - before having sex with her. Later that night, she testified, he dragged her into her room, threw her on the bed and put his hands around her neck and a pillow on her face.

Gehrig said consent in the two incidents was a big question mark in the case.

"We've got two young people that are in a consensual sexual relationship, and consent is always an issue," she said.

There was also a dispute over the Nov. 21 incident. Watt's lawyer, Bill Satterberg, said the threat with the knife had been overstated and noted that at several times during the incident the victim was let out of the car by Watts and had an opportunity to escape but did not do so.

Gehrig said Watts' lack of a criminal record made the prosecution more amenable to settling the case.

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