December 02, 2020
The founder and longtime leader of a Philadelphia youth skateboarding club was charged Wednesday with the alleged rape and sexual assault of two minors, prosecutors announced.
Rodney Watkins, 52, was charged in connected with alleged incidents that occurred around 2011 and 2012, when the two victims were 11 and 12 years old. The victims reported the alleged rapes and sexual assaults as adults.
Watkins is the founder of Powerfulnailya, a skateboarding equipment company that sponsored amateur teams.
According to prosecutors, Watkins first met the victims at playgrounds where skateboarders often congregate. He told them about his company and the opportunities it offered.
The victims said they interacted with Watkins at locations including POPS Skatepark at Trenton and Hazzard streets, Whitehall Skatepark at Torresdale Avenue and Wakeling Street, and Paine’s Park near the Art Museum.
Watkins also traveled with the teams to skateboarding competitions in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Maine, according to prosecutors.
One of the victims who came forward to investigators was a member of the Powerfulnailya team. The other was not a member, but was invited to travel with the team to various events, where Watkins would provide meals and gifts.
The alleged assaults occurred at Watkins' home during sleepovers and in a hotel room during an out-of-state trip, authorities said.
Watkins has been charged with two counts each of rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor and related offenses. He has been ordered to have no unsupervised contact with minors and to stay away from skate parks ahead of a Jan. 26 hearing.
"We are working closely with the District Attorney’s Office to assist in bringing justice to these victims," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said. "If you are a survivor of assault by this individual, or if you have information about someone who was, we are asking that you consider reaching out to our Special Victims Unit. Our detectives will work diligently to ensure that you are given a voice and a chance for justice."
Members of the public who are aware of information relating to Watkins are asked to contact the Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit at (215) 685-3251 or call the police department's anonymous tip line at (215) 686-TIPS.