Clawson students accused of sexual assault

Cellphone video reportedly sparks investigation

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published February 4, 2014

Prosecutors say three Clawson High School students sexually assaulted a 15-year-old student late last year, filmed it and later showed the video to fellow classmates.

The three suspects —  Kheimoni Slaton, 17, of Clawson; Travion Watkins, 17, of Pontiac; and Terry Watts, 18, of Pontiac — are due back in court March 14 for their preliminary examinations.

Police said that after school Oct. 9, the 15-year-old and the suspects walked to a house along the 300 block of Kinross Avenue in Clawson.

Inside the home, police said, the suspects allegedly engaged in sex acts with the 15-year-old. One of the suspects is alleged to have filmed the incident.

“We’re not going to comment on any of the details,” said Paul Walton, chief assistant prosecutor in the Prosecutor’s Office, citing the ongoing trial.

Clawson police said that one of the suspects allegedly showed the video to classmates Oct. 15, and word about the video subsequently reached the school office. The school called the Police Department and police confiscated the phone.

“We did not change any policy or procedures as a result of this incident,” said Monique Beels, superintendent of Clawson Public Schools, in a statement. “In fact, it was due to our district focus on building relationships with students and parents that this incident came to our attention. We will continue to reinforce relationships with students, parents and law enforcement within our district, so that if an incident occurs, students and parents know where to turn and who to contact in our schools. Building trust in our community is the most proactive way to keep students safe.”

When tipped off that the school’s administration knew about the video, the suspect deleted the video before turning over the phone, police said. Police gave the phone to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office forensic lab, which reportedly was able to recover the deleted video.

The Prosecutor’s Office reviewed the case and issued warrants for the arrest of the three suspects on Jan. 31.

Walton said that the time spent between the initial report and the warrant authorization was to ensure that there were no loose ends in the evidence.

“It was a matter of reviewing the evidence,” he said. “You try to have it as ready as possible.”

The defendants were arraigned later on Jan. 31 in front of Judge Kirsten Nielsen-Hartig and charged with multiple counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct — 15-year felonies, according to police.

Watkins was released on $50,000 bond but has been ordered to wear a tether.

Slaton is being held at the Oakland County Jail in lieu of a $50,000 bond, and Watts is being held there in lieu of a $75,000 bond.

Nielsen-Hartig also ordered the three suspects not to have any contact with the 15-year-old, her family or Clawson High School.

At a Feb. 4 pretrial conference, attorneys representing the three teens requested that their bonds be lowered and that the order to wear a tether be rescinded.

Daniel Walker, an attorney representing Watkins, argued that his client is not a flight risk and the tether was a financial burden on the family, costing them about $400 a month.

“He’s going to be doing nothing but sitting around and watching TV all day while we take care of this situation on his behalf,” Walker said to the judge.

Watts’ attorney was not present in the courtroom, but Walker stepped in to also represent Watts for the conference and said his bond should be lowered at least to match the other two suspects.

“He should at least have the same opportunity as the other two defendants,” Walker said.

Robert Starkman, the attorney for Slaton, said his client works and goes to school in the area.

“As a matter of fact, he was at school when he was arrested,” Starkman said.

Sarah Greene, special prosecutor for the county, argued against lowering the bonds due to the severity of the charges.

Nielsen-Hartig sided with the prosecution and denied the defense’s requests.

Outside the courtroom, Walker questioned whether the video on the cellphone would be admissible as evidence.

“The question here is whether or not the state can prove their case,” he said.