Freeman faces four new charges

Published 10:58 pm Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Four additional charges, including another felony, have been filed against the 20-year-old Troy man accused of sexually assaulting a juvenile.

As of Tuesday, Tripp Dennis Freeman was charged with two felony counts and four misdemeanor harassment charges, all stemming from separate incidents involving juveniles over a three-year time frame, according to Troy Police spokesman Sgt. Benny Scarbrough. Freeman was being held in the Pike County Jail on $100,200 bond.

Freeman was charged last Thursday with one felony count of sodomy involving a juvenile, stemming from a 2007 incident only recently discovered. The second felony charge – enticing a child – was filed last Friday but not reported by police until Tuesday afternoon.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Scarbrough said the enticing charge stems from an incident said to have taken place April 29 at Franklin Fields. Scarbrough would not specify age or the sex of the alleged victim, although he said the incident involved a minor. “Specifics of the incident will not be released due to the ongoing investigation,” he said.

All the charges against Freeman unfolded after a May 7 incident in which he allegedly approached a 13-year-old boy at the Relay for Life event and made suggestive comments to the juvenile.

After the boy’s parents learned of the incident, they reported it to police, resulting in the first misdemeanor harassment charge filed on May 11 and the banning of Freeman from all city recreational complexes. Freeman had, in the past, worked as a part-time scorekeeper for the city’s recreation department.

Those parents said they began calling friends and parents of other children who may have been in contact with Freeman, encouraging them to talk to their children in the wake of the May 7 incident.

Those conversations led to the discovery of the February 2007 incident, which reportedly happened at Bush Memorial Baptist Church. That led to the initial felony charge of first-degree sodomy involving a juvenile.

The three additional harassment charges, all of which were reported by police on Tuesday, involved minors and took place during the past year. Scarbrough said the harassment charges include a May 13 filing, stemming from a March incident; a May 14 filing, stemming from a June 2009 incident; and a May 17 filing, said to stem from an incident in late January or early February of this year. Scarbrough said the alleged incidents happened in different places, but he did not provide details.

At Bush Memorial, the church’s senior pastor the Rev. Heath Kahlbau issued a written statement Tuesday regarding the alleged 2007 incident:

“There is much that we do not know about what occurred in the tragedy which has recently surfaced in our community. Bush Memorial Baptist Church pledges our absolute support to the ongoing investigation by the Troy Police Department. Prior to last week, no on in our church was aware that this tragedy had occurred. Based on the allegations, as explained to our church, there was no incident of abuse which occurred during any church event when children were under the oversight and care of a ministry of our church.

“Bush Memorial Baptist Church has had, and does have, clear and concrete policies in place to guard the safety of our children. These policies are enforced stringently to prevent this sort of tragedy from occurring while any child is under our care.

“As a part of the Body of Christ, it is our church’s strong desire to protect the privacy of the victims and their families, just as any one of us would also desire others to do for us if we were similarly affected.

“As a church, Bush Memorial is absolutely committed to supporting and ministering to the families in our church and community who were affected. They need our support as our community works through the difficulty of this tragedy.”

Scarbrough said police continue to investigate Freeman.

If convicted of the sodomy charge, Freeman could face 10 years to life in prison, according to state code. The enticement charge is a Class C felony and carries a one to 10 year sentence for convictions.