TEXARKANA, Texas — A Bowie County judge has ordered 60 additional days behind bars for a former New Boston, Texas, Independent School District Coach convicted last fall of sexual misconduct with a male student.
A jury found Zachary Tyler Moody, 43, guilty in October of an improper relationship between educator and student and of indecency with a child by sexual contact for groping a student in a locker room hallway April 10, 2017. The jury sentenced him to five years on the indecency charge and 10 years for improper relationship with a recommendation for probation.
Under Texas law, judges must grant probation if recommended by a jury. At Moody's formal sentencing hearing, 5th District Judge Bill Miller imposed a 120-day jail sanction as a condition of probation. At the hearing Oct. 4, Miller said jurors had contacted his office to express dismay.
A juror who agreed to speak with the Gazette on condition of anonymity, said he believes the verdict form was filled out to incorrectly reflect a recommendation for probation and that he and other jurors thought they were assessing a 15-year prison term.
The juror described the alleged error as a "jury oops," and lamented the message a probation verdict sends to the victim and other student witnesses who testified that Moody was inappropriate with them during his short tenure at NBISD.
Miller issued an order Tuesday to increase the jail sanction from 120 to 180 days, the maximum amount a judge can impose as a condition of probation in Texas. Moody will be released from jail April 2. He is required to register as a sex offender and will be supervised by a probation officer for a 10-year term which began Oct. 4.
At trial, Moody's victim said he was walking down a narrow and dimly lit hallway from the locker room to the outdoor track when Moody approached him April 10, 2017. The boy, then 15, testified that Moody said, "Give me a squeeze," "Don't fight me," and, "God wants this," as he pushed him back toward the locker room. The victim said Moody stuck his hand into the boy's pants and groped him before the boy was able to put some distance between himself and Moody.
The victim testified that he hid in a locked bathroom stall until the bell rang and it was time to go home. That evening, while at dinner with his parents in a Texarkana restaurant, Moody sent the boy a direct message on Instagram which said, "I was being stupid, sorry." A second message from Moody to the boy a couple of hours later asked if the boy accepted Moody's apology.
Two other students testified about encounters with Moody. One said Moody slid his foot along his thigh and touched his genitals while the boy was lying on the floor in class while a film was being played with lights off. Another said Moody grabbed his rear end as he walked away from the teacher's desk. Two men who worked with Moody at a retail store testified that Moody offered to give them money while asking for nude pictures of them at the same time.
A Longview, Texas, detective who conducted a forensic analysis of Moody's cellphone found 179 photos of nude young men and testified that Moody used his phone's web browser to search for pictures of "cute teen boys" and boy's genitalia.
Moody's status as a convicted felon and registered sex offender means he is ineligible to teach or coach. Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter prosecuted the case.