A Parker County jury convicted a 41-year-old former Springtown Police Officer of molesting a 14-year-old high school student and sentenced him to 12 years in prison in a trial that concluded on Thursday in district court in Weatherford.
Franklin "Frank" Carroll was working as a school resource officer at Springtown High School at the time of the offense. The victim testified that, during her freshman year, Carroll befriended her and began to pull her out of class and have her come to his office several times a week. When the door to his office was closed, those outside could not see into his office. The victim testified that, over a period of weeks, while in his office, Carroll began hugging her, progressed to kissing her, touching her breasts over and under her clothes, and eventually to touching her genitals.
Another SHS student testified that Carroll befriended her and that their relationship ended after he grabbed her and French kissed her in that same office. A third SHS student told jurors that Carroll befriended her, she confided personal information to him, which he then used to his advantage and requested naked pictures from her.
"One of the best pieces of evidence that we admitted during the trial was a letter of a sexual nature that the victim wrote to Carroll which was found in his desk after he resigned," said Assistant District Attorney Abby Placke, who tried the case for the prosecution with Assistant District Attorney Larry Fadler. "Most reasonable folks working at a school, let alone a police officer, would freak out, take such a letter to someone in administration, and ask what to do. They wouldn't hide and keep it. That was very difficult for the defense to explain, particularly since the victim testified that Carroll asked her to write it."
Carroll testified in his own defense and denied the allegations made by all of the former students.
Jurors deliberated for over two hours before finding Carroll guilty of indecency with a child on Thursday morning.
After Carroll elected to have a jury assess his punishment, prosecutors introduced testimony from a woman who worked at a business in Springtown. She said that, on several occasions, while in uniform, Carroll would come into her office and masturbate in front of her. She filed a police report with Springtown PD, but no criminal action was taken.
A former co-worker of Carroll's from a Saginaw business testified that Carroll took her cell phone when she was not looking and scrolled through it trying to find intimate pictures that she had taken for her boyfriend. After she suspected Carroll, she downloaded an app that would take a picture of anyone trying to access files or apps on her phone. Her suspicions were confirmed when the app took Carroll's picture as he was searching her phone. Breach of computer security charges are currently pending in Tarrant County for that misdemeanor offense.
Defense witnesses testified that he was a good person and that they would not have a problem with him being around their family and children.
After his conviction, Carroll was facing punishment of either probation or 2 to 20 years in prison. Jurors deliberated for about 20 minutes before assessing Carroll a 12 year prison sentence.
"School resource officers are entrusted with guarding the safety of our children," Fadler said. "The breach of that public trust in this case was particularly offensive. Were it not for his position and the knowledge and access that comes with it, he wouldn't have had an opportunity to do what he did."
After the trial, District Judge Graham Quisenberry, who presided over the trial, advised him that he has a right to appeal. As of press time, no appellate notice had been filed.
"We appreciate the seriousness with which the jurors took their responsibility," said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain. "Through their verdict, the jury spoke on behalf of the people of Parker County and said that they will not tolerate this kind of behavior."
Carroll will have to serve a minimum of half of his sentence before he can be considered for parole, Swain said. "Of course, just because he is eligible does not mean that he will actually receive parole."
With the conviction, Carroll will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Swain said.