ANGLETON — A former Alvin ISD police officer accused of having sex with a child in his Manvel Junior High office is standing trial this week after pleading not guilty to the felony charges. The girl detailed the alleged sexual relationship in front of a Brazoria County jury Tuesday.
Terry Roy Tennard, 43, responded “not guilty, your honor,” to each of the two first-degree felony aggravated sexual assault of a child charges and two second-degree felony sexual assault of a child charges.
Police arrested Tennard at his Pearland home Dec. 15, 2017, and he has been free on a $100,000 bond with conditions since the next day, according to online records. Alvin ISD fired him shortly after his arrest.
The degree of the charges is based on the girl’s age at the time of the alleged incidents. Two stem from when the girl was 13, and two from when she was 14, according to the indictment.
The girl’s mother went through her daughter’s phone in December 2017 and discovered inappropriate messages between Tennard and the girl, according to court documents. The now 15-year-old girl finally admitted to her mother she had been in a sexual relationship with the officer since December 2016, when she was 13, Prosecutor Paige Santell said.
Retained defense attorney Maverick Ray alleged the girl’s story is a fantasy created because she didn’t get enough attention at home and became infatuated with Tennard.
“What you’ll hear from this case is a classic story of how people get wrongfully accused of sexual assault,” Ray said during his opening argument.
On the witness stand, the girl said she didn’t tell investigators about all of the sex acts that occurred between Tennard and her. She tried to protect Tennard because she liked him as a person, she said. The two had said “I love you” to each other, the girl said.
Prosecutors showed pictures of Tennard’s office at the junior high, which had a locking door and no windows, the girl said. They would have sex on a comforter Tennard placed on the office floor, the girl testified.
Prosecutors showed a hall pass from Jan. 18, 2017, which told the girl to report to Tennard’s office and another student notification from Dec. 15, without a year, which told the girl to report to Officer Tennard immediately for a message.
The girl said she didn’t know if the student notification is related to the sexual assault allegations, but said she remembered three or four times Tennard used a pass to excuse her from class while they had sex. She would also hang out in Tennard’s office during lunch, she said.
The girl would talk to Tennard and confided in him because he was somebody kids could come to express concerns about problems at home, with teachers or with other students, Ray said. Students called him “OT” instead of Officer Tennard, he said.
The girl began confiding in him because her siblings were getting more attention than her and her parents were on the edge of divorce, Ray said in presenting the defense.
A few months after the allegations, the girl’s parents filed a civil lawsuit against Alvin ISD for $250,000 or more, Ray said. Her parents’ financial interest is another motivation to lie, he said.
When asked by Prosecutor Rick Martin, the girl said she did not make up these allegations.
Before trial began Tuesday, 149th District Judge Terri Holder warned the people in the gallery that this would be an emotional case, and observers who can’t conceal their emotions should leave the courtroom. From his seat next to his attorneys, Tennard greeted people he knew sitting on the bench behind him.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today in the 149th District courtroom at Brazoria County Courthouse.