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story.lead_photo.caption Dylan Simpson

NEW BOSTON, Texas—A Bowie County jury found a former New Boston Middle School substitute guilty of online solicitation of a minor Thursday but not guilty of indecency with a child by sexual contact.

Dylan Reed Simpson, 22, sobbed on the witness stand Thursday afternoon as he answered questions from his defense lawyer, Shorty Barrett of Texarkana. Simpson admitted he sent sexually charged messages to a number of girls, ages 12, 13 and 14, but denied he ever touched any of them inappropriately. Simpson's time in a position of authority over children lasted about six weeks at New Boston Middle School.

This week Simpson is on trial for alleged misconduct with a girl who was 12 in late 2017 when Simpson began working as a substitute. That girl testified Wednesday and Thursday that Simpson sat down next to her one day in the cafeteria and touched her breast. Girl after girl testified about hugs that included touching on their breasts and buttocks, receiving random photos of Simpson's penis and messaging that included Simpson's desire to take a young girl from her home and have sex with her in the back of his truck.

When Simpson was first interviewed by police in December 2017 he adamantly denied any misconduct. When an investigator told Simpson he had screen shots of Simpson's messages sent through SnapChat, Simpson changed his account and admitted he was guilty of online solicitation of a minor.

That was the only crime the jury found him guilty of committing in the case of one girl who was 12 at the time of the alleged offense.

While being cross-examined by First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp, Simpson refused to admit to touching the girls who testified they were violated by him at school. One girl testified that Simpson rubbed his crotch against her arm while he was in a state of arousal. Another girl testified that Simpson touched her breast in the school cafeteria. Another girl testified Simpson repeatedly touched her buttocks and breasts while hugging her at school.

Another girl, the first to report Simpson to school officials for touching her, said she was in computer lab when Simpson placed a hand on her thigh and slid it to her crotch. That girl immediately went to the office and reported the allegation, leading to the involvement of law enforcement. A student who was in the classroom at the same time testified that she saw Simpson's hand on the other student's leg.

Simpson's jury was instructed by 202nd District Judge John Tidwell to return to court Friday morning to hear testimony concerning the punishment Simpson should receive for online solicitation of a minor involving a victim who was 12 when Simpson, then 20, began sending her salacious messages and pictures via SnapChat. He faces two to 20 years in prison but is eligible to receive probation if sentenced to 10 or fewer years and if recommended by the jury.

Other charges concerning girls who testified but whose cases were not before the jury this week remain pending. Dates for trial on those cases have not yet been scheduled.