Lee Davis: Sexting Teacher’s Aide Given New Sentencing Hearing By The Court Of Criminal Appeals

Saturday, October 13, 2012 - by Attorney Lee Davis
Lee Davis
Lee Davis

A former Knox County Schools teacher’s aide who sent naked photos to a Gibbs High School student has been given a new sentencing hearing as the result of a recent ruling by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Scot E. Vandergriff won the hearing to determine whether he should avoid conviction for sending “inappropriate texts and nude photos” to a male student at the school.

The Court said that the problem began in October of 2009 when Gibbs’ Principal Lynn Hill called the police after a parent complained that there were sexual texts on her son’s phone. The student’s teacher then alerted the principal who, in turn, confronted Vandergriff about the inappropriate text messages.



Vandergriff admitted to the principal that he had sent the photos. He then turned over his phone to authorities and gave consent to search the mobile device. The phone contained pictures of his anatomy and a subsequent investigation showed numerous text messages back and forth with the student, including nude photos.

Vandergriff decided to plead guilty as part of a plea deal to a charge of sexual exploitation of a minor and was sentenced to a two-year prison term. After pleading guilty he applied for judicial diversion, a program for first-time offenders that avoids jail and a criminal record if he were to abide the requirements of probation. The trial judge however, refused to allow Vandergriff to enter into the program. This decision was appealed and the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed that Vandergriff was entitled to another, more complete hearing.

The Court said that the judge, Knox County Criminal Court Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz, did not adequately explain her decision to deny Vandergriff diversion. The Court said that the record does not demonstrate that the lower court considered all the factors in ruling against the application. All Leibowitz said was that she was going to “err on the side of caution” and deny the diversion. This statement is not a sufficient explanation for why Vandergriff does not qualify.

To read the full opinion, click here.

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Gov. Haslam allows evolution bill to become TN law
New Tennessee Law Prevents Discussion of “Gateway Sexual Activity

(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at lee@davis-hoss.com or at 266-0605.)



Nektur Marketing Opens In Chattanooga

Nektur Marketing in opening in Chattanooga with a focus on helping businesses grow. Carlos Pielago said, "Aligning your brand with the customers searching for your product or services  is a growing challenge for today’s business owner. Nektur was formed to help you meet that challenge by providing practical online marketing solutions to grow your business. "We not only ... (click for more)

Decosimo’s Brian Joyce Earns Certification As Common Security Framework Practitioner

Decosimo announced that Brian Joyce has earned the designation of certified common security framework practitioner from the Health Information Trust Alliance. As the director of Information Technology and Security for Decosimo,  Mr. Joyce oversees all aspects of the firm’s IT needs, including planning, design and implementation of network systems. He is also responsible ... (click for more)

City Set To Move Ahead On Study For Light Rail System; But Some Council Members Skeptical

City officials are set to move ahead in applying for a grant to study setting up a light rail system in Chattanooga, though some City Council members are skeptical. Blythe Bailey, city transportation director, said it might cost $20 million to set up a system that would use the Missionary Ridge Tunnel to go from downtown to the Chattanooga Airport as well as the Enterprise South ... (click for more)

Funeral Arrangements Set For Renee Card Monroe, Killed Monday In ATV Accident

Funeral arrangements have been set for Renee Card Monroe, 60, who was killed, along with her two grandchildren, Reagan and Jaxson Cohen, in an ATV accident on Monday when their ATV toppled into a pond. A lifelong resident of Chattanooga, Ms. Monroe was an active member of Eastwood Baptist Church where she helped lead a small Bible study group. Ms. Monroe was an entrepreneur ... (click for more)

UAW Is Dropping Appeal Because Of Opposition

Let's tell the truth here: the UAW attempted infiltration of the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tenn. a couple of years back and lost. They appealed to the NLRB three times and each time the vote went against the UAW more and more.   When you consider the local political opposition, citizenry and worker opposition, sentiment toward the UAW is even more staggering in Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Clemson Prayer And Much More

Clemson’s football program, which has won 11 games in each of the past two years and was ranked 8 th in the nation after whipping Ohio State in this year’s Orange Bowl, has just been “blind-sided.” The Freedom from Religion Foundation claims Coach Dabo Sweeney and his staff are doing far too much “to promote Christianity to their student athletes.” Clemson promptly roared back ... (click for more)