UPDATE: Joshua Black has been sentenced to six months in the Smith County Jail after being found guilty on charges for official oppression.
TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A six-person Smith County jury found Constable Joshua Black guilty of official oppression.
The jury deliberated two hours before reaching the final verdict. Sentencing will begin Friday at 9 a.m. According to judicial records his bond was increased to $200,000.
Black is still facing misdemeanor prostitution charges in a separate court. That trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 27 in County Court at Law 2.
Black is convicted of committing official oppression by offering sexual favors in exchange for free or discounted supervised visitation services to a woman named Bailey Vandergriff.
Vandergriff was going through divorce proceedings and family court in Smith County directed her to have supervised visits with her daughter.
Smith County prosecutor Richard Vance has emphasized that while the sexually explicit images and messages were initiated by both sides, Black is held to a higher standard as an elected law enforcement officer.
The chief investigator for the Texas Rangers testified that he believed Black crossed the line into illegal territory by hinting toward a “deal” between them where it appeared he would offer free supervised visits to Vandergriff in exchange for sexual favors. Two of these visits were held at the Smith County Pct. 2 Constable’s Office.
Defense attorney Mishae Boren maintained during cross-examinations that there was never any explicit threat by Black that threatened Vandergriff he would cut off visits with her daughter if she did not have sex with him.
Castle did admit on the stand he believed that the two never had sex before he began his investigation.
Vance then played a video recording of Black being interviewed by Castle nearly one year ago. When confronted about a text where Black asked for a picture from Vandergriff and to let him “feel the platinum”, he tells Castle that he can’t remember the context of that text. This answer came after a 35-second pause.
Throughout the interview, Black repeats several times that it was “inappropriate” and “stupid” but that his intention was never to imply that she must have sex with him to continue the visits.
Castle was pressed by Boren if Vandergriff’s phone was ever forensically downloaded. He replied it had not been. She then asked if Vandergriff could have deleted messages, Castle replied: “It’s possible.”
The jury must come to a unanimous verdict. There are six members and one alternate. The group is made up of four white women, two white men and one black woman.