PRINCETON — Gibson Superior Court jurors found Gibson County Sheriff's Deputy Daniel Greer guilty of felony child seduction at 4:22 p.m. Thursday, following about two and a half hours of deliberation.
Sheriff Tim Bottoms confirmed Thursday evening that Greer signed a letter of resignation following the jury verdict.
Greer is convicted of using his position as a deputy/school resource officer to seduce a 16-year-old Gibson Southern High School student into a sexual encounter in January or February 2017, according to trial testimony.
Suspended from the department without pay and free on bond since the charges were filed this summer, Greer was handcuffed and taken into custody after hugging his parents and pastor, who attended the trial.
Gibson Superior Court Judge Robert Krieg entered the conviction order and scheduled a 9 a.m. Feb. 14 sentencing hearing after a pre-sentencing investigation is completed. A level 5 felony conviction carries a potential sentence of one to six years in prison, with an advisory term of three years.
A progress hearing will likely be conducted following the sentencing, regarding a second separate pending felony child seduction charge, and a charge of obstruction of justice.
Greer chose not to testify in the two-day trial, which opened Wednesday with testimony from two local school resource officers about their duties, from the South Gibson school superintendent, who testified about the duties and contract for resource officers, from three recent Gibson Southern graduates — and the teen, now 17, who testified about his relationship with Greer.
Before deliberating, jurors heard testimony Thursday morning from Gibson Southern High School Athletic Director/Assistant Principal Jon Adams, who told them that school resource officers at the high school work to provide security at the school, but are not directly responsible for discipline or teaching or counseling.
Judge Krieg read the jury instructions which detailed the elements required to find a verdict of child seduction, before closing arguments and deliberation.
Deputy Prosecutor Anthony Hurst told jurors they should find Greer guilty of child seduction, asserting that Greer worked in affiliation with the school in a position of trust among students, responsible for their care and safety. He said that Greer used his professional relationship to attract and recruit the student, reminding jurors of testimony that Greer discussed the possibility of the 16-year-old student helping with an investigation into a gas station selling alcohol to minors, and the boy testified that Greer's status as a law enforcement officer was something that he was attracted to.
Defense attorney Lisa Moody argued that Greer was not a child care worker. "He was basically a security officer at the school," she said, reminding jurors that witnesses testified Greer did not and was not expected to directly supervise students.
She told the jury that minutes of the March 2017 South Gibson school board meeting showed 16 different officers were hired to rotate in and out on security details, "not (in the role of) caring for children, but securing the premises."
Moody said Greer said there was no testimony that Greer was counseling students or supervising or recruiting them.
"He's definitely a law enforcement officer," she acknowledged, but said that he did not use his professional relationship to seduce the teen. The teen testified that Greer was not on duty and was not in uniform at the time the sexual act happened last year.
"Daniel was not in any way using his authority to coerce," she said. "We have had no coercion at all," she said, reminding the jury that the teen testified that he didn't think he would have experienced a negative consequence if he hadn't engaged in sex with Greer.
"I'm not asking you to find that you agree with what happened, I'm asking you to carefully follow the law," she told jurors.
In his final remarks, Hurst discounted the notion that seduction would not apply if the encounter was consensual. "When someone is seduced, don't they go along willingly?" he asked, then reminded jurors that the teen testified "...it made me feel less than what I was..." following the sexual encounter.
Hurst said that if the relationship was innocent, Greer would not have told the teen not to talk about the encounter when he was contacted by police. Before the jury retired to deliberate, Hurst asked them to answer the question: "Can school resource officers pick their sexual partners from the children they're protecting?"