Former Greenfield Coach Pleads Not Guilty to Grooming Charge, Trial Set For June

By Benjamin Cox on April 25, 2022 at 10:09am

A former Greenfield High School assistant baseball coach and IHSA Sports Official was in Greene County Court on Friday for a pre-trial hearing on grooming charges.

State’s Attorney Caleb Briscoe called Police Chief John Goode of the Greenfield Police Department to the stand to show cause for the charges. Goode testified that Assistant Police Chief Nate Alderfer was contacted shortly after midnight on September 18, 2021 by 23 year old Austin L. Bishop of Greenfield to allegedly disclose he had been text messaging and soliciting photographs and “twerking” videos from a 13 year old minor female. Bishop allegedly came to Alderfer’s personal residence to disclose the situation.

Bishop (Courtesy of Greene County Sheriff’s Office)

According to Goode’s testimony, shortly after his conversation with Bishop, Alderfer contacted Chief Goode about the situation. Then, Goode says he was contacted by Bishop by phone, who explained he had “done wrong” and had “other problems” which the situation had brought to light. Goode also acknowledged to the court that he was acquainted with Bishop prior to the incident in question.

Pre-trial records indicate that a search warrant for phone & data records from AT&T for Bishop’s cell phone had not been returned as completed as of Friday. Goode indicated to Bishop’s defense counsel David Leefers that he has also had not completed a “data dump” of Bishop’s phone, which was subpoenaed in a search warrant issued by Greene County Judge Zachary Schmidt in June. Leefers then asked Goode if he was aware that Judge Schmidt had been substituted out from the case at the time for the request of the warrant. Goode indicated he was not made aware of the judicial substitution at that time.

Greene County State’s Attorney Caleb Briscoe says that not getting quick cooperation from AT&T is not surprising: “Unfortunately, in dealing with these companies, it’s not something that’s uncommon. When dealing with them, we are trying to jump through all of these hoops that they want you to. It seems like they always find ways to reject that or sometimes they just don’t even respond. I think we’ve had other cases here in Greene County lately where we see more and more active people that use their cellphones or technology to communicate [in crimes]. Unfortunately, we have a lot of experience, more than we want to, in subpoenaing or obtaining search warrants to various tech companies. It’s tough to obtain compliance.”

Chief Goode indicated in the report filed with the court that four pages of messages were obtained through screenshots to file the charges. However, Goode indicated in cross examination that the minor had never sent photos or videos to Bishop from the evidence he had seen.

Briscoe says that the state will have to prove that the messages exchanged were sexual in nature: “The nature or one of the elements of the charge indicates that if they make the offer to give something in exchange for [the materials]…that’s what the solicitation would be. So the fact that she didn’t end up sending anything wouldn’t necessarily prevent us from proving that allegation. It does have to be proven that the [materials] were sexual in nature.”

Bishop has pleaded not guilty and requested a trial by jury. Jersey County Judge Allison Lorton set a further pre-trial hearing in the case to June 17th.

Bishop potentially faces up to 1-3 years in prison, a monetary fine of up to $25,000, and have to register as a sex offender.