PRINCETON — Gibson Superior Court jurors heard the first day of prosecution testimony Wednesday against Gibson County Deputy Daniel Greer, who is charged with a level 5 felony count of child seduction. Testimony continues this morning.
Greer, suspended from his job as a deputy without pay pending the outcome of the case, is accused of using his position as a deputy and Gibson Southern High School resource officer to have a sexual relationship in January or February 2017 with a Gibson Southern high school sophomore. His school resource position was terminated in May 2017.
The student he's accused of seducing testified that he first met Greer while he was a middle school student. "I knew that I could trust him," he told the jury, mentioning that when he volunteered as a teacher aide, Greer would stop in and socialize with him, and "stood up for me" in an issue regarding an overnight school trip. He said Greer did not go on the overnight trip.
The teen said they began messaging on social media last year and "it definitely did lead to a relationship of some kind" one time, but he mostly ignored messages after that. He said after social media messages with Greer, he invited Greer to his mother's home one evening when he was there alone, telling jurors he abused his mother's trust and let him in the house, where they had sexual contact.
He testified that he viewed Greer as someone he could trust. Following the incident, he said he didn't have contact with him through social media. "It's definitely been an eye-opener for me," he said.
He also testified that when he learned that police were looking into the incident, he "freaked out" and contacted Greer, who told him not to talk about it. "At the time I had a lot of feelings for him and I didn't want him to lose his job," he told jurors. "Subconsciously, I think I knew it was wrong..." he said, and later decided that the best thing would be to tell what happened.
On cross examination, he testified that while he met Greer when he was a middle school student, the social media contact with him started "a lot later," in January or February of 2017. Regarding the evening Greer came to his house, he testified, "I think I did invite him over...and let him in," and that the sexual contact was consensual. He said Greer was not in uniform and was not acting in his capacity as a police officer that evening. "I don't feel like he was using (his position as an officer) to force me, but as something positive I was attracted to," he testified.
The student testified that he didn't feel any negative consequences. Regarding the beginning of the conversations between the two when he was in middle school, the student testified that he felt like Greer talked to him more than he talked to other people, but repeated that the social media contact didn't start until much later.
In opening statements of the trial, Deputy Prosecutor Abigail Cox told jurors they would hear testimony from school and law enforcement officials and from students regarding the role of resource officers in the school, and testimony from the student about his relationship with Greer. "We just ask that you evaluate all the evidence and apply the law," she told the panel.
Defense attorney Lisa Moody told jurors they must decide whether the case meets the statutory definition of child seduction. "Dan was not a child care worker or teacher at the school," she said, asserting that he did not use authority to form the relationship. "It was a consensual relationship and no crime was committed," she told them.
Superior Court Judge Robert Krieg reviewed statutory definitions of the charge with the jury panel, selected from a pool of 65 potential candidates Wednesday morning, before the witness testimony began.
Sheriff's Deputy Ben Kiesel testified he was working as a school resource officer at Owensville Community School when a teacher told him about inappropriate contact between Greer and a Gibson Southern high school student. He said he passed the information along later that day to Detective Sgt. Roger Ballard and Capt. Bryan Ellis.
Indiana State Police special investigator Craig Starr testified that he was assigned the investigation at the request of the county, and he met with Gibson County Sheriff's Office deputies who investigated the case, and interviewed witnesses.
South Gibson School Corp. Superintendent Stacy Humbaugh testified that school resource officers were originally assigned to the schools through a multi-county grant, and the officers were paid by the sheriff's department, then reimbursed with grant money paid on South Gibson's behalf according to a memorandum of understanding between the two entities. On March 1, 2017, the arrangement changed and the school resource officers were paid directly by the school, as employees of the school, she testified.
Ballard testified Kiesel told him about the allegation against Greer and he contacted Ellis, then started an internal investigation before asking the state police to investigate possible criminal charges.
He told jurors the priority of school resource officers is to protect the people at the school. Daily duties include monitoring school traffic and entry and exit of school buildings, behavior in school parking lots, checking with school office staff, monitoring hallways, lunch period and other functions. Officers might work with school counselors in cases where law enforcement background is helpful, he said.
Ballard, who said he wrote the memorandum of understanding with the school, testified that school resource officer training defines roles as law enforcement officers, informal counselors and assisting teachers when asked.
Ballard said he went to school with Greer, supervised him when Greer worked in community corrections, and worked with him when Greer became a deputy. He testified he didn't have any direct knowledge of instances where Greer counseled students. He confirmed that when school resource officers are working, they wear their sheriff's office uniforms and badge. He said all school resource officers have a copy of the memorandum of understanding developed between the school and the sheriff's office.
Jurors also heard testimony from three former Gibson Southern High School students who testified that they saw Greer in the school working as a school resource officer, and saw a social media profile photo of Greer on an "app" used by gay men. Two testified that they created fake profiles and interacted via social media messages with him. One testified that Greer messaged him via the application, offering his cell phone number and mentioned that he watched the student rehearsing for a school production. He testified that "sometimes he would try and talk to me, but I'm shy and didn't answer." He said Greer mentioned something to him about not replying to messages he had sent him. The other student said he saw Greer's profile, but never interacted with him on social media. A female former student testified that she created a fake profile as a man and messaged him but had no contact with him other than seeing him at the school.