Former RI lawmaker Watson arraigned on assault charges

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A former Rhode Island lawmaker accused of assaulting another man pleaded not guilty to charges during his arraignment at Kent County District Court Monday morning.

The judge released former House Minority Leader Robert Watson on personal recognizance.

A 47-year-old man told East Greenwich police he was driving Watson to court when Watson struck him in the arm with a padlock, which he then tossed from the vehicle.

The alleged victim claimed Watson then tried to exit the vehicle while they were traveling along Post Road, so he brought it to a stop. Police said Watson got out and walked across the street and the other man followed, which led to the two getting into a fight on the front lawn of someone’s home.

The homeowner contacted police and officers took Watson into custody on charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct.

Watson’s lawyer tried to argue that Watson was the victim of the assault and the case should be dropped. The judge denied that request.

Watson was previously arrested by East Greenwich police one year ago after they said he caused a scene and shattered a glass door at the Citizens Bank on Frenchtown Road.

In 2011, Watson was arrested in Connecticut on DUI and marijuana possession charges, but the case was later dropped.

The following year, he was pulled over in South Kingstown and charged with marijuana possession.