Teacher pleads guilty to sex with ex-student

Kelly WatsonSAN DIEGO — A high school special-education teacher pleaded guilty Thursday to having sexual intercourse with one of her 17-year-old former students.

Kelly McKenzy Watson, who is free on $45,000 bail, faces a sentence ranging from probation to three years in state prison. A judge could also require the 34-year-old defendant to register as a sex offender when she’s sentenced on Feb. 6.

“It’s definitely a betrayal of a position of trust,” Deputy District Attorney Mary-Ellen Barrett said outside court. “It’s just a very sad situation.”

Watson was arrested Aug. 9 on suspicion of sexually assaulting the boy, who she met when he was a student in her class at the New Haven residential school in Vista, said Lt. Anastasia Smith of the San Diego Police Department.

The lieutenant said Watson was the boy’s teacher at New Haven for several semesters from September 2010 until August 2011. New Haven works with troubled and at-risk teens.

San Diego police sex crimes detectives received a tip on July 30 about inappropriate conduct between Watson and the former student and later determined she had a dating relationship with the boy several months earlier, Smith said.

Watson had been a highly respected special-education teacher for the past seven years, defense attorney Paul Wallin said at her arraignment in August.

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