The former president of a Chattanooga technology company most likely will be given a two-year sentence with little to no jail time after he pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory rape, court officials say.
Greg Austin, 46, ex-president of Chattanooga-based CTC Technology, performed sex acts on April 23, 2010, with two girls, both of whom were students at East Ridge Middle School at the time, police records show.
Austin will return to Hamilton County Judge Don Poole's courtroom on March 26 for sentencing. In the meantime, he must register as a sex offender and most likely will have to go through group therapy and treatment in a sex offender group, officials said Monday in court.
Tennessee law specifies alternative sentencing be given rather than a full two years of incarceration for offenders such as Austin who have no previous record, Poole said.
"I follow the law in regard to that," the judge said.
Poole said he would consider community corrections or a limited incarceration.
After his arrest on the local charges, Austin was arrested in Catoosa County, Ga., on a charge of pandering of a person under the age of 18. That case still is pending in court.
Neal Pinkston, executive assistant district attorney for Hamilton County, said while Austin meets the state's requirement for alternative sentencing, it's disturbing that he committed offenses when he was released on his own recognizance. "There should be some immediate punishment rather than straight probation and sex offender registry."
Lee Davis, a criminal defense attorney who represents Austin, said his client has taken responsibility for his actions.
In a presentence investigation last year, a psychosexual evaluation showed that Austin does not show any tendency toward predatory sexual behavior.
"It was more of a consensual situation," Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Detective Ed Merritt said when he took the stand Monday.
The girls were given money in exchange for particular services, Merritt testified. The acts were brought to light after one of the girls' mothers found text messages from Austin to her daughter.
The girls thought Austin was a law enforcement officer, according to testimony. At one point, Austin was a reserve deputy with Hamilton County Sheriff's Office after he helped former Sheriff Billy Long during his election campaign.
"I understand that I made a very bad decision that I have learned from. I am ashamed that I hurt my family, friends and my wife. I live every day and I regret that I put myself in this position. I value my family, children and my wife, and I am sorry for what I did," Austin said in a statement dated Oct. 7, 2011.
Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6406.