Ex-TSC employee found guilty of child molesting

Jennifer Holmgren has been found guilty on several charges of child molestation.

Posted: May 27, 2021 11:36 AM
Updated: May 28, 2021 9:26 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — A jury found a former Tippecanoe School Corp. employee guilty on two counts of child molesting and one count of inappropriate communication with a child.

The jury deliberated for about five-and-a-half hours Thursday afternoon but did not return unanimous verdicts on another count of child molesting and a count of child seduction.

The jurors said they needed more information on the timeline of Jennifer Holmgren's sexual advances.

As News 18 previously reported, Holmgren was charged with several felonies in connection to sexual encounters with a former student while she was an aide at Klondike Elementary School. She met the boy in 2015 while giving him reading lessons when he was in third grade.

According to court testimony and evidence, Holmgren became a close family friend, often giving the boy and his family members rides in her car and helping them run errands.

But the boy said during his testimony Wednesday the relationship turned sexual. He said Holmgren molested him on a weekly basis over the course of four years until she was fired and arrested in November of 2019.

Holmgren was fired after TSC uncovered explicit conversations on Google documents between her school account and the boy's. She was arrested several days later after an in-depth, three-hour interview with detectives.

During the interview, Holmgren admitted to having sex with the boy in her car once in 2019 while his family members were inside a grocery store.

Toward the end of the interview, she mentioned she was raped when she was 19 years old. 

Holmgren also took the stand Thursday on the third day of the trial and said the rape resulted in permanent fear and anxiety around men.

She said during her testimony that she made the admission to detectives because she "felt closed in" during the police interview and she needed to "get away from those men."

She also denied having sex with the boy, as well as writing the explicit messages.

During cross examination, prosecutors noted Holmgren never asked to leave the interview or speak with a female officer. They also pressed her on why her interview with investigators didn't match her court testimony.

During closing arguments, prosecutors characterized Holmgren as a woman who violated her role as a school employee and a close family friend.

"As a child care worker, she should have known better," deputy prosecutor Jackie Starbuck said.

Holmgren's defense attorney, Russell Brown, was critical of the investigation.

"There is a lot of evidence that was never collected," he said.

He said detectives didn't collect records from the boy's Instagram accounts or devices or search Holmgren's car and apartment for DNA evidence.

Holmgren faces a maximum of 53 years in prison. Her sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 10.

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