Former Benton teacher trial delayed, lawyer seeks change of venue

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A former Benton Elementary School teacher accused of molestation and rape of students has had trial date moved while his lawyer has asked that the trial be moved from Bossier Parish.

A Bossier Parish district court judge on Tuesday moved Aubrey Norcross’ court date has been delayed from Sept. 9 to Jan. 27, 2020. Norcross will be back in court on Sept. 10 for a motion hearing.

Aubrey Norcross, 47, was originally arrested Oct. 17, 2018, for video voyeurism and more charges were added as more victims came forward.

On Nov. 19, a Bossier Parish grand jury handed down an indictment that included eight counts of molestation of a juvenile, two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, one count of first-degree rape and one count of video voyeurism.

The criminal charges allege sexual intercourse with a 5-year-old boy in October; inappropriate touching of others between August 2016 and October 2018; inappropriate behavior involving watching a video; and recording one child with an electronic device in September. Boys and girls ages 11 and under were involved.

The media attention on the arrests and fallout prompted defense attorney Randal Fish to file a change of venue motion.

Fish’s motion contained newspaper and web articles subpoenaed from local newspapers, radio and television stations, along with thumb drives containing stories broadcast on local television stations.

In addition, Fish argued, the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office sent out press releases to the media regarding Norcross’ arrest and subsequent charges, and invited parents and the media to a meeting with school board officials and Benton Elementary parents on the Sheriff’s Facebook page.

Fish subpoenaed Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington and former Bossier Superintendent Scott Smith for Tuesday’s hearing. Whittington did not appear, citing the defense had all necessary information, while Smith did. He was released by Fish after all the evidence was admitted into the record.

Judge Parker Self deferred the motion, saying he wished to wait until potential jurors were summoned and interview them.

In addition to the criminal charges, parents of three children have filed suit against Norcross and the school board, saying school administrators knew or should have known about the teacher and didn’t investigation when signs of abuse occurred.