25 counts of child pornography. Those are just some of the charges against a Bourbon county business owner.
An investigation into a robbery started the process that led to all the charges against Joe Watkins.
Police arrested Watkins last week on robbery and drug-related charges. Investigators raided his truck, restaurant, flower shop, and home in Paris. They also seized his computer, which they say led to these new charges.
After investigators raided Joe Watkins' home and businesses last week, many nearby had been waiting to learn what would happen next. News that the owner of the Chicken Ranch restaurant and adjacent flower shop had been charged with 25 counts of child pornography came as an outrage to many. "Anybody that would do that to children, you know, he's sick. He's just sick," nearby business owner Patty Fairbanks said.
As part of a narcotics investigation, Bourbon County Sheriff's deputies working with Paris Police received a tip about possible child pornography in Watkins' home. Detective Jeff Asbury says the most recent charges only reflect a portion of the material they discovered. "Myself and the Lieutenant was disgusted," Asbury said, "We got through 25 of them, and at this point that's all we wanted to see due to the graphic material, it just upset us both seeing a minor child in those types of acts."
Some neighboring business owners who have known Watkins for years say the most recent charges are in line with long held suspicions. "I've had that uneasy feeling for years with him because I've been next door to him. I've been across the street, and I've watched him, and he'd prowl around," Fairbanks said, "I knew something was going on, but I didn't know how much was going on."
"Anytime you have child pornography, your community and county as well is on a higher alert at that point because if someone has that, what else would they do, if you do something to a child?" Detective Asbury said.