March 13, 2006

Cornell Speaker Faces Harassment Charges

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Rev. Tommie Watkins Jr. was charged Friday night with harassment in the second degree. The charges stem from an incident that took place at 7:05 p.m. at Robert Purcell Community Center, according to the Cornell University Police Department’s daily report.

Watkins, an ordained Baptist minister, had been scheduled to speak on homophobia in the black church, according to the events listing on Cornell’s website. Watkins was forced out of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1997 for being in a relationship with another midshipman. He later wrote about his experiences in the book Living Out Loud .

Blaine Friedlander, press relations, said that after being processed at the CUPD station, Watkins was taken to the Ithaca Police Department and released on his own recognizance. He is set to appear in City of Ithaca court on March 29 at 9:30 a.m,, according to Friedlander. He has been designated a persona non grata by the CUPD, meaning he is barred from returning to campus. Harassment in the second degree is a violation.

A call to a listed number for Watkins in Miami Beach, Fla. went unanswered.

Archived article by Sun Staff