Legislative Intern's Boyfriend Says 'I'm Not an Extortionist'
McKensie Morrison and Joel Watts
Republican Sen. Paul Stanley
Joel Watts says he's answering questions, just like he thinks former Senate Chairman Paul Stanley ought to be answering questions.
Watts faces criminal charges, accused of trying to extort the family-values Republican over his relationship with a legislative intern.
He tells our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams that it's all a big misunderstanding.
"I am not an extortionist. I didn't demand money. That's why I am here today," Watts told Williams.
This comes as NewsChannel 5 Investigates uncovers new video video of the senator and the intern.
"If you had found out or had seen video or a tape of your wife in the act, you could probably generalize and feel how I felt," Watts added.
The suspect says his 22-year-old girlfriend, McKensie Morrison, quickly became seduced by the life of a legislative intern -- working for a powerful Senate chairman, Republican Paul Stanley, by day, escorting him by night to the Capitol's after-hours parties.
"She would go out and be by his side and kinda see what his experiences were in the evening time outside of the office."
In video from the Senate's web site, shot just days before the alleged extortion plot, Stanley asks Morrison to introduce her family, then thanks them for trusting him with their stories.
"Appreciate the stories the parents have shared with me today," the Senate chairman said. "It's going to help us manage the interns better during the second half of the session."
Watts said, "This gentleman had an obligation not to take advantage of situations."
That's why Watts says he was stunned to discover sexually explicit photos of Morrison, he says, taken by the 47-year-old lawmaker in his Nashville apartment.
"At the time, yes, I was mad at McKensie. I was mad at him. During this time, you know, I was thinking this guy needs to be exposed. I need to bring this house of cards down."
Then, authorities say Watts sent Stanley an ominious text message:
"Good morning sir, how are you this fine day? McKensie and I have been talking and I feel that I have a video and some pictures you might be interested in seeing.... Contact me as [soon as] possible and have a splendid day."
Watts said he was trying to get Stanley's attention.
"I wanted someone to say, hey, you know, I messed up. I regret this. This was wrong. I wanted someone to acknowledge my feelings. I wanted someone to acknowledge my emotions at that time because I felt betrayed."
Text messages obtained by the T-B-I suggest Watts increased the pressure:
"10,000 small bills, 20's... be smart because I will take all of us down. you have until 10 am to reply with cash in fist."
But Watts says that only came after Stanley heard he was trying to sell the photos to a reporter.
"So he addressed it in a manner as though I will match you or I will do whatever. He wanted to incorporate money into the situation," Watts said.
"So he brought up money?" Williams asked.
"He brought up money."
"If he brought up money, why would he go to the TBI?"
"That I don't know."
While the evidence of an extortion plot against the senator may appear damning, Watts says there's more evidence that the public hasn't heard.
"I had asked this gentleman for an apology on the phone. It is recorded and documented. I never, ever demanded or asked for money from this gentleman. I asked for an apology."
Watts says he's still in touch with Morrison and she's quite shaken about being caught up in this scandal.
Asked about how she now feels about the senator, he said "disgusted."
But we haven't heard from her so we really don't know for sure.
As for Stanley, he issued a statement Tuesday saying that the TBI and DA's office had asked him not to talk about the case.
Tonight, both agencies say that is just not true. They say he's completely free to talk, if he wants to talk.
In Watts' text messages, he refers to a reporter who might buy those photos. He tells NewsChannel 5, it was someone with tabloid connections -- not a local reporter.
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