Former Watkins Parent Speaks Out About "Creepy" Band Leaders
After reading about former H.L. Watkins Middle School band teacher Heath Miller and his best friend, Franklin King -- both charged with child molestation -- the mother of a former band student felt compelled to speak out.
The woman, who spoke anonymously because she fears retaliation, says her son was in the band three years ago when King was president of the band booster organization. She remembers King spending long days and evenings at the school, helping out at practices, raising money for uniforms, going on field trips.
King served as booster president for two years, even though his son graduated
after the first year.
"Miller and King were together all the time," the former band mother says. "They were thick as thieves."
But something about King's behavior felt wrong, she says. As she watched him and Miller deal with the inevitable school-girl crushes -- kids running up to tickle and hug them -- the men seemed to enjoy the attention.
"There were a lot of girls that were always hugging on him and hanging on him," she says of King. "It just felt really, really creepy to watch the two of them -- primarily Mr. King -- but the two of them, with these young girls."
"It's up to the adults to go: 'Boundaries! Back up, girls,'" she says.
Once, the former band parent says King showed up at a practice with a young girl, then disappeared with her. When they returned about half an hour later, King was wearing different, disheveled clothes, and the girl was drinking a Slurpee.
The former band parent says she never mentioned anything to school officials, because she didn't think a gut feeling was enough to launch an investigation. But when King was arrested in 2007 for allegedly molesting a 15-year-old girl who was not a Watkins student, the mother felt some relief.
"It was like, 'Thank God,'" she says now. "What I was picking up was really what I was picking up."
Then last April, when Miller was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting girls in the band, she wasn't terribly shocked.
"The girls that he allegedly had sex with, I think he wrecked their lives," the woman says now. "I don't think the kids know what to do with this stuff."
And she wonders why more people didn't have the same gut reaction she did. "I just find it really hard to believe that there weren't some other adults that had some raised eyebrows at something."
Get the Things to Do Newsletter
Find out about upcoming events and special offers happening in South Florida.