By ERIN SANSON
The case against Austin L. Bishop on the charge of “Unlawful Grooming” continued on Jan. 27 as he made another appearance in Greene County Court.
Bishop, 25, of Greenfield has entered a plea of not guilty. He returned to court on the 27th for a pre-trial hearing. He will return to court on March 17 for a status hearing.
Bishop is a former volunteer assistant baseball coach at Greenfield-Northwestern High School. He also was a sports official for the Illinois High School Association and served on the Greenfield Volunteer Fire Department.
In the charge filed by Greene County State’s Attorney Caleb L. Briscoe in Sept. 2021, it is alleged that Bishop, on or about Sept. 2, 2021, committed the offense of “Unlawful Grooming,” in that “said defendant knowingly used a cell phone to solicit a child under the age of 17, requested via text message nude photos and videos of a minor.”
Greene County Sheriff’s deputies and the Greenfield Police arrested Bishop in September 2021.
According to reports by News Channel 20 and WLDS Radio Bishop turned himself in to Greenfield Police. Greenfield Police Chief previously testified that Bishop contacted the department on Sept. 18, 2021 and told Assistant Police Chief Nate Alderfer he had exchanged text messages and soliciting photographs and “twerking” videos from a 13-year-old girl. The girl asked for vaping equipment in exchange for the photographs and videos.
Judge Allison Lorton, a visiting judge from Jersey County is hearing the case. Lorton granted a continuance due to an agreement between the defense and State’s Attorney’s Office.
If Bishop is convicted of grooming, a Class 4 felony, he faces a possible prison sentence of one to three years and a possible fine of up to $25,000.