Howard Watson was an enigma even before he went from being one of Dallas County Constable Jaime Cortes' most senior deputies to a suspect in several felony crimes.
Some deputies who work for Cortes say they knew little about Watson's background. But information that came to light during a Dallas Morning News investigation of his past suggests there may be a reason for that.
Dessory Channels, a California woman who says she is one of Watson's former foster children, claims he began sexually abusing her while she was still a minor and is the father of her three children. She also told The News that Watson was in the repo business in California and kept some high-end cars that he'd seized, driving them for months and even years with temporary license tags.
The charges against Watson, 66, filed Jan. 27 as part of an investigation into suspicious activities at some constable offices, include the unauthorized use of two motor vehicles, tampering with government records and coercing two women into performing sexual acts instead of arresting them on outstanding warrants. His wife, Janette, is charged with providing a false seller's name and previous owner's name on a vehicle title certificate and tampering with a vehicle title.
One of Watson's former landlords told The News that Watson concocted a story about becoming the beneficiary of a rich uncle's estate and presented falsified financial documents when he leased a house in an upscale Los Angeles suburb with an option to buy. Watson stopped paying rent after two months, said the landlord, who won a civil judgment of more than $30,000 against the Watsons that was never paid.
Records show that Watson had other run-ins with authorities in California, including a child support case filed on Channels' behalf. He also faced criminal charges of domestic abuse and assault with a firearm that were later dismissed, according to Los Angeles County records.
Watson apparently left California even as authorities were looking for him. He re-emerged in Texas, where he trained to be a police officer and quickly became one of Cortes' top deputy constables.
Watson remains in jail and declined a request from The News for an interview. As of Friday evening, county records did not list a lawyer for him. An attorney for Janette Watson had not conferred with her and could not comment. She could not be reached for comment.
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