Feb. 27 (UPI) — A federal judge on Friday ordered an Ohio woman to remain in jail pending trial on charges she helped organize a group to attack the Capitol in January as a leader of the so-called Oath Keepers militia.
Jessica Watkins appeared before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta on Friday in Washington, D.C., for a detention hearing after her Jan. 19 arrest. The judge said Watkins “presents a danger” after taking part in “a historic event that was a real threat to the fabric of our democracy,” according to CNN.
Federal prosecutors accused Watkins of being among a group of Oath Keeper leaders who worked to recruit other like-minded individuals to participate in the Jan. 6 mob attack. She was arrested along with Thomas Caldwell and Donovan Crowl in the alleged conspiracy.
Prosecutors said fellow participants Bennie Parker and Sandra Parker, both of Ohio, coordinated with Watkins regarding weapons, clothing and lodging ahead of their trip to Washington, D.C., and kept in touch with her during the attack.
“She was not just a follower. She was higher up in the chain,” Mehta said. “She was a recruiter and did recruit others to participate in the events of January 6 … . She is not just a foot soldier. She is someone planning, organizing larger groups of people.”
Watkins said she was “humiliated” by the charges and said she’s renounced the Oath Keepers. Mehta said if she were released from jail, there’s a risk she’d reaffiliate herself with the right-wing group.
Watkins has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy; conspiracy to impede or injure an officer; destruction of government property; obstruction of an official proceeding; and entering a restricted building.
Mehta set Watkins’ next hearing for March 12, according to court documents.
Authorities have arrested and charged more than 200 people for alleged roles in the Jan. 6 attack, which left five people, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, dead. Another two police officers present at the Capitol during the attack died of suicide in the days following.