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Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

District Attorney, New York County

For Immediate Release
February 15, 2017

DA VANCE: AFTER-SCHOOL AIDE SENTENCED TO 20-YEARS-TO-LIFE FOR SEXUALLY ASSAULTING TWO STUDENTS

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of DARNELLE WATTS, 29, a former after-school aide who worked with a Harlem school's choir, to 20-years-to-life in state prison for sexually assaulting two of his students. On January 23, 2017, a New York State Supreme Court jury found WATTS guilty of Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child, Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. 

“A jury deliberated for just two hours before finding Darnelle Watts guilty of committing repeated acts of sexual abuse against two students in his care,” said District Attorney Vance. “As a choir teacher and after-school aide, this defendant worked with children each and every day, and there is cause for concern that there may be additional victims in this case. If you believe your child has been a victim of sexual abuse, I urge you to contact the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Child Abuse Unit at (212) 335-4308. Help is available.”

As proven at trial, WATTS was employed at Promise Academy II, an elementary school in Harlem, as a part-time after-school aide who worked with the school's choir during the 2013 – 2014 and 2014 – 2015 school years. From September 2014 through May 2015, the defendant repeatedly sexually assaulted a 10-year-old boy enrolled in his class, both on and off school grounds. WATTS was also convicted of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy at the school from March 2015 through June 2015.

Assistant District Attorneys Elizabeth Clerkin and Jonathan Junig prosecuted the case under the supervision of Nicole Blumberg, Chief of the Child Abuse Unit, as well as Executive Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Trial Preparation Assistant Bill Walen and Investigative Analyst Ethan Zubkoff assisted with the case.

District Attorney Vance thanked NYPD Captain Steven Green, and Detectives Hazel Wike-Gray and Gerard Sardina. 

Defendant Information:

DARNELLE WATTS, D.O.B. 1/29/1988

Convicted: 

  • Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child, a class A-II felony, one count
  • Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, a class D felony, two counts
  • Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a class A misdemeanor, two counts

Sentenced: 

  • 20-years-to-life in prison