published Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

No indictment returned in JROTC director’s alleged child molestation

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The grand jury declined to indict the suspended head of county school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training program on a charge of sexual battery of his 5-year-old granddaughter.

Chattanooga police arrested Thomas McConnell on March 4 after Tammye Cagle recorded what she considered “inappropriate touching” by McConnell of the girl as she sat on his lap at a Sunday brunch meal in the Chato Brassiere restaurant at 200 Manufacturers Road.

Prosecutor Charlie Minor played the iPhone video during McConnell’s March 21 preliminary hearing in general sessions court. The video showed McConnell rubbing the girl’s leg as she sat on his lap while McConnell’s wife, daughter and a priest were seated nearby.

McConnell, 66, is a retired U.S. Army colonel and has worked with Hamilton County Schools JROTC program for 18 years.

After the hearing, McConnell’s attorney told the Times Free Press that going forward with the charges was a “mistake in judgment” by the prosecutors and there wasn’t any evidence the child had been “sexually violated in any way at any time by anybody.”

For more see tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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