Sexual assault trial begins for former Harris County deputy

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HARRIS COUNTY, Ga. — Several current and former employees with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office are testifying about the day one of their own lost his job.

As News 3 has reported, 38-year-old Tommy Pierson is accused of forcing three women to commit illicit sexual favors during separate traffic stops. Back on Valentine’s Day of 2016, the Pike County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Harris County Sheriff’s Office about a complaint.

Former Harris County deputy Tommy Pierson testifies in a pretrial hearing.
Former Harris County deputy Tommy Pierson testifies in a pretrial hearing.

A woman claims Pierson forced her to commit illicit favors on the side of the road. One day later, Pierson was fired from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. The GBI arrested Pierson and charged him with sexual assault three months later. Monday, a judge heard pretrial motions for the former deputy.

Former Chief Deputy Neil Adams was in the meeting with Sheriff Mike Jolley to discuss the case February 15, 2016. The victim in the Valentine’s Day incident claimed to have seen Pierson’s underwear, describing it vividly. Adams says the description matched what Pierson was actually wearing. Adams adds Pierson later cried, broke down emotionally, and admitted the sexual favors were consensual.

Pierson was placed on paid administrative leave after reporting to the sheriff’s office. He handed in a typed statement to Sheriff Jolley as the law enforcement agency’s manual says to do in administrative investigations. Sgt. Joe Harmon with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office took Pierson home after his weapon and car keys were taken away. Harmon says Pierson’s wife at the time hollered at him when officials told her what reportedly happened.

“She made a statement to me: ‘It’s not like I’ve never seen another woman *** his *** before,'” Harmon said quoting Pierson’s wife. “Basically, she told him not to do this at work.”

Pierson’s defense believes those comments, as well as the ones made before his firing should not apply in his criminal trial because he was forced to make them.

“I can’t believe you’ve done this at work,” defense attorney Bernard Brody said. “What does she mean by this? We don’t know. There are so many unknowns about this statement because it is so vague that he can’t answer.”

Brody believes Pierson’s wife’s reaction is not relevant to this criminal case.

“How does that add to anything?” Brody questioned. “It doesn’t add anything at all in this case. It’s the ‘I can’t believe you did this again.’ That would be different. ‘You did this before, and now you’re doing it again.’ That’s different.”

Ultimately, the judge will decide whether or not the statements are relevant. The jury will decide whether the statements matter in their deliberation to convict or acquit Pierson of sexual assault and tampering with evidence charges.

Pierson testified he did not anticipate a criminal investigation sprouting out of the internal probe into alleged wrongdoing. The defense also wanted to change the location of the trial, stating the case had received too much local publicity for Pierson to get a fair trial. The judge will take the motions to throw out certain testimony and think about moving the trial, as jury selection gets underway Tuesday.

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