Harrodsburg coach will appear before grand jury

March 12, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - Brian Tolliver, the girls' basketball coach at Harrodsburg High School who is charged with first-degree sexual abuse, will appear before the Mercer County Grand Jury.

Mercer District Judge Jeff Dotson ruled sufficient probable cause to ask the grand jury, which is scheduled to meet March 24, to consider an indictment.

The ruling came after the judge heard testimony from the alleged victim, her mother and the detective who is handling the case. The girl was 13 or 14 at the time of the alleged sexual abuse. She was a member of the basketball team and had been in Tolliver's health class.

When the case began in February, Detective Bobby Durham said sexual abuse is touching in an inappropriate place. The girl testified that the coach had taken her home from practice several times when neither her mother or friends were available.


While she said he had made inappropriate remarks to her, the incident for which the charge was brought involved touching. When asked by Mercer County Attorney Douglas Greenburg about the touching incident, the girl broke down in tears, and a brief recess was called.

She was not the only person in the courtroom in tears. Tolliver sobbed quietly throughout much of the hearing.

Before the witness broke down, she told the court of an earlier incident in which she had gone to Tolliver's home to babysit his young son. He said his wife was in Lexington and he needed to be away from home.

"He was supposed to run errands," she testified. "He stayed home doing paperwork."

She said she was sitting on the floor with the baby when Tolliver came by and reached down and snapped the top of her underwear in the back. She said he asked if it hurt.

While Tolliver put the child to bed, the girl, at his suggestion, used the computer and logged on to the Internet. He then asked her if she wanted to put on shorts. She said she told him no. After the baby was put to bed, the girl charged, Tolliver asked her if "I wanted to chill with him in the bed."

Again she said no.

She also testified that sometime later, he showed her his personal planner which had games and pictures. One showed various positions for having sex and he asked her if she had tried any of them. She said no.

The girl's most damning testimony came after the recess.

She said about two weeks after the babysitting incident, Tolliver was taking her home, but asked if she wanted to go riding around. She said yes, and he drove her into Cold Springs subdivision near the Boyle County line.

"He asked if I wanted to get freaky," she testified. She said no. Then she said he placed his hand on her vaginal area and placed her hand on his private area. Both were fully clothed during the alleged incident. She testified he later took her home.

Throughout the hearing, the girl, her mother and the detective had difficulty joining incidents with dates.

Nevertheless, her mother said she got her daughter to tell her about the coach and health teacher, and when she did, she wrote a letter to the principal at Harrodsburg Middle School. The mother testified it had been difficult to get her daughter to tell her about the alleged incidents.

As William Erwin, Tolliver's attorney, questioned the girl's mother, he pointed out that there was no mention in the letter about touching. She also agreed there was a statement in the second letter saying she did not want the coach to lose his job.

The first person to testify was Harrodsburg Police Department Detective Bobby Durham. He recounted the events that occurred when a complaint was filed by the girl's mother. He said he interviewed the girl at King Middle School, where her mother had enrolled her after the alleged incidents.

She told Durham that she had gotten special treatment from Tolliver and he would let her out of class. Durham also described the touching incident that brought this case to light.

"You don't think the child is telling the truth," Erwin said. Durham said that was not his job. He was a finder of facts, he said. Erwin pressed on. "You didn't take the case to the grand jury as you usually would do." Durham agreed he had not. He also had not sworn out an arrest warrant. That had been done by the juvenile's mother.

At Erwin's prodding, Durham agreed that the mother had frequently called the police department about prowlers, about her telephone being tapped and that she had said there were troubles at home and that she and her daughter constantly fought. He also testified that the dates of incidents are inconsistent.

In closing arguments, Erwin said, "This is a sham. It's ridiculous."

For his part, Dotson acknowledged the discrepancy in the dates of important events. "These are serious allegations. Based on the testimony, probable cause has been found."

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