Tennessee court strikes conviction of former DCS worker who solicited teen for sex

By: - April 7, 2022 7:00 am
(Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

A Tennessee appellate court has struck down the conviction of a former foster parent and Department of Children’s Services case worker who propositioned a teenager for sex and got robbed instead.

Jeremiah McDaniel was entrusted with the protection of children through both his job as a social worker for DCS and as a foster parent for abused and neglected children when–in May 2017–he offered a 17-year-old boy $100 and pills to “calm” him for a sex act, court records stated.

The boy–with help from a couple of friends–robbed McDaniel instead and turned him into Monroe County authorities. Two years later, McDaniel was convicted of the crime of solicitation of a minor to commit sexual battery and sentenced to six months in jail. Attorney Bob Jolley appealed.

In a ruling made public earlier this year, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals tossed out McDaniel’s conviction as legally flawed – not because the proposition did not occur but instead because the teenaged boy pretended to be willing to go through with it.

“(McDaniel) claims that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction of solicitation of a minor to commit sexual battery because the proof fails to show lack of consent,” Appellate Judge Norma McGee Ogle wrote. “We agree with (McDaniel) that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction.

“Although the victim apparently had no intentions of going through with the sexual contact, he certainly indicated to (McDaniel) that he was willing to participate right up until (the victim’s friend) opened the driver’s door of (McDaniel’s) vehicle,” the opinion continued.

McDaniel lost his job at the Madisonville DCS office after his conviction. It was not immediately known if he continues to serve as a foster parent. McDaniel was married and 33 years old at the time of the incident.

The offer

According to court documents, the 17-year-old boy knew McDaniel and occasionally visited the McDaniel home in Madisonville to hang out with one of McDaniel’s children. The boy was also friends with a second teenager who was on McDaniel’s DCS caseload.

In May 2017, McDaniel was looking for that teen, the opinion stated, and reached out via the Facebook Messenger app to the 17-year-old boy for help, the opinion stated. The two teens were together, but McDaniel didn’t know that. 

“I (will) pay you to let me (touch the boy sexually),” McDaniel, a former Department of Children’s Services caseworker,  wrote in a Facebook Messenger post. “I’ll even bring you a Xanax (narcotic anxiety medication) tonight to help you calm down.”

McDaniel next asked the 17-year-old boy if he was unemployed.

“No,” the teenager responded, “but I mow a few people’s yards every so often cause (sic) I have to help take care of my grandmother.”

McDaniel responded, “Well, I may have some way for you to make some money. Do you have a gf (girlfriend)?”

When the 17-year-old boy told McDaniel he was “single as can be,” McDaniel made his pitch – sex for cash.

“I (will) pay you to let me (touch the boy sexually),” McDaniel wrote in a Facebook Messenger post. “I’ll even bring you a Xanax (narcotic anxiety medication) tonight to help you calm down.”

The boy later testified he was speechless and “didn’t know what to, how to really think about it at first.” The two teens allegedly decided to both rob McDaniel and expose his misdeeds to authorities.

The plot

The boy agreed to meet McDaniel at a convenience store in Madisonville, accompany him to a nearby automatic teller machine for payment and go with McDaniel to the Madisonville DCS office parking lot, the opinion stated.

What McDaniel didn’t know was that two other teenagers were surveilling them.

“The victim got into (McDaniel’s) vehicle,” the opinion stated. “(McDaniel) drove to the ATM, and (McDaniel) withdrew one hundred dollars. McDaniel then drove to the DCS office parking lot. While the McDaniel was driving (to the DCS office), he asked if the victim ‘wanted to do any Xanax’s before or after,’ and the victim answered, ‘before.’”

 McDaniel gave the boy a Xanax pill and then parked behind the DCS office to collect on his end of the bargain – a sexual act. The boy and his friends, who had been hiding in a vehicle in the same parking lot, had other plans.

“(The victim) opened (McDaniel’s) door,” the opinion stated. “The victim got out of the passenger side of (McDaniel’s) vehicle, and the victim ran to (his friends’ car) with (McDaniel’s) money.”

Authorities in Monroe County were later able to confirm the boy’s story from Facebook Messenger messages and surveillance footage from the ATM from which McDaniel withdrew the $100 payment.

 

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Jamie Satterfield
Jamie Satterfield

Jamie Satterfield is an investigative journalist with more than 33 years of experience, specializing in legal affairs, policing, public corruption, environmental crime and civil rights violations. Her journalism has been honored as some of the best in the nation, earning recognition from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Awards, the Green Eyeshade Awards, the Tennessee Press Association, the Tennessee Managing Editors Association, the First Amendment Center and many other industry organizations. Her work has led to criminal charges against wrongdoers, changes in state law and citations in legal opinions and journals. She was married to the love of her life for 28 years and is now a widow and proud mother of two successful children of good character and work ethic.

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