By PAT EATON-ROBB
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A member of Windsor’s board of education has been arrested in Florida on suspicion of traveling there to have sex with a minor.
Christopher Watts tried to arrange a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old in an online chat with an undercover agent who he believed was the girl’s father, authorities said. A copy of the criminal complaint was obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
Federal authorities said the 38-year-old Watts was arrested Thursday night at a hotel after arriving in Orlando.
Watts, who is president of Precision Marketing, an advertising and public relations firm in Windsor, made his initial court appearance before a judge on Friday. He was held without bail in the custody of U.S. marshals.
It wasn’t clear if Watts had hired an attorney. Messages seeking comment were left at his home and office and with other members of the board of education.
According to the complaint, Watts responded on March 5 to a posting titled “dad has daughter” in online chat rooms labeled “incest” and “jailbait” on the website Motherless.com. The message was placed by a member of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement task force.
Over the next several weeks, Watts and the agent exchanged numerous sexually explicit messages, and Watts sent the agent photos of himself, including one of his genitals, according to the report.
The agent sent Watts a voice mail and a photo with the help of a crime scene technician who was posing as the girl and arranged for Watts to spend a night with the girl while Watts was in Florida on a previously scheduled trip to buy a truck, according to the affidavit.
After he was confronted by the agent in his hotel room, Watts acknowledged downloading videos of images of children in sexual acts and sharing those images with others, according to the report. Watts also told the agent that he had figured out that he had been chatting with a law enforcement officer, had deleted his chat account and had no plans to follow through with their meeting.
He told the agent that he “may have broken the law, but I have a track record of stopping and doing the right thing. I am finished with underage talk and photos for good,” according to the affidavit.
If convicted, Watts faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life.
Prior to his work in public relations, Watts worked in broadcast journalism, including for The Associated Press.
Associated Press writer Mike Melia contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)