Former Greenfield Coach, IHSA Official Grooming Case Continued Due to Evidence Discovery

By Jeremy Coumbes on January 31, 2023 at 6:46am

A former Greenfield baseball coach and IHSA official appeared in Greene County Court on Friday for a pretrial status hearing.

24 year old Austin L. Bishop of Greenfield faces a charge of unlawful grooming, stemming from an arrest by Greenfield Police and Greene County Sheriff’s Deputies in September 2021. According to charging documents filed in the case by the Greene County State’s Attorney’s Office at the time, Bishop is alleged to have requested nude photographs and videos of a juvenile via text messages.

Visiting Jersey County Circuit Judge Allison Lorton heard the case on Friday and allowed for a continuance to be granted on the grounds of an agreement between the state and Bishop’s defense counsel David Leefers. Greene County State’s Attorney Caleb Briscoe explains that the need of the continuance was based on discovery finally arriving in the case: “In part of the investigation into the alleged crime, there was a phone dump, and in being able to provide the contents of that in a meaningful way to the defense counsel so that they can use it and make sense of it has been challenging. The attorney for the defendant and the Greenfield Chief of Police were able to sit down in the last week or so and go over the phone dump. I think we’ve got that problem resolved. Again, because it only happened this past week, we agreed to set the matter over to allow the defendant to have some time with that information that now they can properly use or navigate anyway. We’ll see where we are at. We hoped for a month continuance, but due to scheduling conflicts, we are into March. We will have some conversation with defense counsel and see if we can move this case forward towards a resolution.”

Defense Attorney Leefers also made a request on Friday to allow his client to leave to the state of Missouri as a driver for his current employer, which Judge Lorton also granted.

Briscoe says that he doesn’t have any issue with Bishop’s request: “He has limited criminal history, and he’s appeared in court every time he’s been asked. I don’t think the court had any concerns about him fleeing this jurisdiction or not coming back in for court. At the end of the day, we do want people to be productive members of society. The fact that he is working, I think does lean in his favor in getting that waiver from the court.”

If Bishop is convicted of grooming, a Class 4 felony, he faces a possible prison sentence of 1-3 years along with a possible fine of up to $25,000. Bishop is next due in Greene County Court for status on March 17th.

Ben Cox helped with the gathering of this report.