The woman that Marion Barry is alleged to have stalked, leading to his arrest last night, has been identified as Donna Watts, 40, a friend and companion of Barry’s for several years.
Watts was identified in an afternoon press conference by Barry spokesperson Natalie Williams; Barry himself did not attend, Williams said, because he was attending services at his church, Temple of Praise. Watts, a former campaign volunteer, has been seen with Barry on numerous occasions, including at April federal court hearing on his ongoing tax troubles. Less than two weeks later, the Washington Post reported that Barry had bought Watts a lavish fur coat at a charity event, outbidding CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
Williams described Watts as a “confidante” and “close friend” of Barry’s, then went on to describe her as a troubled person whom he had been helping for some time, having “lended his friendship and his support…through her many stages of instability.” That includes gifts of money.
“He has assisted her in health challenges. He has assisted her in her search for employment. He has assisted over over a period of time during her financial hardship. He has done for this woman what most of us would only hope that someone would do for us in our time in need,” Williams said. “Never did Mr. Barry think that this would come as the payback to him.”
“The best word to describe Mr. Barry at this hour,” she said, “is betrayed.”
Why the smear effort? Said Williams, “[Barry] feels that it is important to put the allegations as well as the charges in its proper context.”
A person familiar with the situation who has spoken to Watts says that the incident began shortly before the arrest, when Barry showed up at Watts’ home in Anacostia. Earlier in the day, the two had been together, and Barry had asked Watts to accompany him to an event in Rehoboth Beach later in the day. She refused. When Barry arrived at Watts’ house, her ex-husband was also there, and when the two attempted to leave through Anacostia Park, Barry pursued them in his BMW, honking and flashing his lights. That’s when the Park Police officer pulled the cars over and arrested Barry.
In her account today, Williams said that Barry was not in pursuit of Watts—-that, in fact, his was the leading car and that she was following him—-and that Barry was “on his way home.” She confirmed that the two had been together earlier in the day.
“I believe that Ms. Watts knew exactly what she was doing,” Williams said.
Not unexpectedly, Williams made comments critical of the Park Police of behalf of Barry, says that he was “concerned about his treatment” while in custody. In particular, she said, he was not allowed to contact his attorney, Fred Cooke, for some four hours after the arrest. “He does plan to elevate these concerns to the proper authorities,” she said. “He’s concerned about his relationship with United States Park Police.”
Williams says Barry hopes that charges will be dropped.
“Councilmember Barry is no stalker,” Williams said. “Instead, he is someone who has lended his hand to assist, which, in the end, has come back to bite him.”