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School security officer's indecent exposure charge nets probation

By Don Jacobs, The Knoxville News-Sentinel • Updated Jan 10, 2014 at 11:37 AM

(MCT) – A Knox County elementary school security officer charged with indecent exposure during an undercover police sting has been granted judicial diversion.

Dennis Craig Murphy, 41, appeared Jan. 3 before Knox County General Sessions Court Judge Geoff Emory on the charge he netted in a Tyson Park rest room, records show.

Emory ordered the charge be dismissed after six months if Murphy garners no new criminal charges. The judge also ordered Murphy to stay out of Tyson Park.

Emory noted Murphy has no prior criminal record and must pay all court costs associated with the case. Murphy is slated to appear 9 a.m. April 17 before Emory to assure he is complying with the judge's orders.

Murphy will be able to expunge the criminal charge from his record upon successful completion of his unsupervised probation.

Murphy, who has worked as a Knox County Schools security guard at Beaumont Elementary School, was charged Dec. 20 at about 2:30 p.m. A specialized group of Knoxville police officers conducted an undercover sting at the city park's rest room after public complaints about indecent activity.

Murphy, just as the other eight men nabbed during the sting, was cited to court and not arrested.

The citation alleging indecent exposure states, "(Defendant) exposed himself to a plain clothes officer in the bathroom at Tyson Park. (Defendant) made statements to citing that he thought he was getting oral sex."

Police said the sting targeted men who signaled to others in the rest room they were interested in oral sex by exposing themselves.

The citation notes Murphy is employed as a school guard at Beaumont, but does not state if he was wearing his school guard uniform at the time of the alleged offense.

School officials suspended Murphy on Dec. 20 with pay after learning of the charge. He surrendered his gun, badge, baton, keys, radio and school identification card when suspended, school officials said.

"He's still on administrative leave with pay and the review is ongoing," Knox County Schools spokeswoman Amanda Johnson said Thursday.

Johnson said Murphy was not on duty at the time of the alleged incident because students were let out of classes early for the winter break. She said security guards were released at noon that day.

Murphy, who listed himself as a minister in correspondence with school officials, has been an officer with Knox County Schools since at least 2005.

Murphy on Dec. 23 posted on his Facebook page, "I am doing fine just be carful (sic) were (sic) U STOP and use the Restroom! U R better off using it on your self (sic)! "DONT (sic) STOP."

In a response to a comment about his wellbeing on his Facebook page, Murphy posted , "Doing fine the press has there (sic) time and I will have my TIME!"

Murphy could not be reached Thursday for comment.

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