Therapist faces 2nd felony count

Denver Post / August 1, 2000
By Stacie Oulton

GOLDEN - The Evergreen therapist who led a fatal "rebirthing" session was charged Monday with a second felony.

Connell Watkins already was facing a felony charge of reckless child abuse resulting in death stemming from an April session that led to the death of 10-year-old Candace Newmaker. On Monday, Watkins was charged with criminal impersonation, the second felony, and two misdemeanors: obtaining a signature by deception and unlawful practice of psychotherapy.

The fourth-grader died after Watkins and three other adults allegedly wrapped her up in a blanket and placed her under a pile of pillows to simulate her mother's womb.

The group then pushed on the pillows to cause a "rebirthing" that was suppose to help the girl reattach to her adoptive mother, Jeane Newmaker. But the girl apparently suffocated after vomiting.

The new charges allege Watkins' claimed to practice therapy under the license of a Neil Feinberg, which was not true. She then deceived Jeane Newmaker into signing a disclosure form by claiming she practiced under that license, according to prosecutors. She also was practicing psychotherapy without being included in the state's database of unlicensed therapists, court documents show.

Newmaker, who was watching the rebirthing session, also has been charged with criminally negligent child abuse that resulted in death. Also charged with reckless child abuse in the case are fellow therapist Julie Ponder, 39, of Buffalo Creek, Watkins' business manager Brita St. Clair, 41, of Lakewood and intern Jack McDaniel, 47, of Loveland.

Judge Charles Hoppin on Monday denied a prosecution request to weigh and measure McDaniel. Watkins and St. Clair already agreed to the procedures.

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