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.)



Chattanooga Area Labor Council To Host Workers Memorial Day Event

The Chattanooga Area Labor Council will host a Workers Memorial Day Event on Monday, April 28, to remember all workers who have suffered and died on the job and to renew efforts for safe workplaces.    This is a worldwide campaign, sponsored by the AFL-CIO, to generate awareness and support of workers’ rights to "safe, healthy and respectful work environments."   ... (click for more)

Hicks Speaker For Walker Chamber's Monthly Membership Luncheon

The University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center will be highlighted by keynote speaker Kinsey Hicks, program coordinator, during the Walker County Chamber of Commerce’s April Membership Luncheon which will take place on Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Walker County Civic Center, 10052 N Hwy 27, Rock Spring, GA.    The Mission of the ... (click for more)

Man Shot On Cannon Avenue Early Saturday Morning

A man was shot early Saturday morning on Cannon Avenue. At approximately 5:30 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to 2300 Cannon Ave. for shots fired.  Shortly after receiving the call, officers learned that a victim arrived at a local hospital.  The victim suffered a gunshot wound to the right leg and is undergoing treatment. The injury is not considered to be life-threatening.  ... (click for more)

Child Playing With Cigarette Lighter Starts $25,000 Mobile Home Fire

A child playing with a cigarette lighter started a mobile home fire on Saturday morning. At 9 a.m., the Chattanooga Fire Department responded to a mobile home fire at 6561 Cassie Lane. It took four fire companies about 10 minutes to get the fire under control. The fire was contained to one bedroom. No injuries were reported. Damage to the home is around $25,000. (click for more)

When The City Was Silent - And Response

I don't know how to say this without getting my head handed back to me on a platter as is often the usual case. But at least I no longer receive the hateful (even threatening) emails and insults I became accustomed to. So I'll just bite and say it: I honestly don't see anything expressed by the NSM that hasn't been said locally on some level at one time or another, and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: God Could Use You…

In the spring of 1968, this just before pro golfer Billy Casper would win six tournaments that year and be the leading money winner on the tour, the wildly-popular “Buffalo Bill” was in Japan playing some off-season tournaments. He was asked if he would like to visit some American soldiers who had been seriously wounded and Casper, ever the gentleman, said of course. As he melted ... (click for more)