BELTON — Disgraced former Killeen police officer Kirt Yarbrough was found guilty Monday for having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female he met through the department’s youth outreach program.
Yarbrough and family members present in the courtroom showed little emotion as the jury pronounced his sentence at five years in prison after he was convicted of sexual assault.
The former Killeen Police Department officer was suspended and eventually fired in January after allegations surfaced that Yarbrough had sex with a student he met while supervising the Killeen Police Explorer program.
The program was suspended for months while police administration investigated it. KPD relaunched the program in May with a new civilian supervisor.
Dressed in a beige jacket and tan pants, Yarbrough took the stand to maintain his innocence following his conviction. He told the court he took the victim to hotel rooms as a way to get her out of emergency situations.
In one instance, he said the girl had been kicked out of her home. In another, he said she had run away on her own and was left out in cold, rainy weather, Yarbrough testified.
However, prosecutor Shelley Strimple, citing the Farmer’s Almanac, noted that the temperature got no cooler than 54 degrees on the day in question: Dec. 19, 2011. A check of the almanac’s weather history website showed the Killeen area had no rain, and the high temperature at Fort Hood was 70 on that day.
Yarbrough’s defense attorney Anthony Griffin skewered the girl in his closing arguments. He told the court the girl conspired with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend in order to extort money from Yarbrough.
The girl told police during her first interview with police her mother had “prostituted” her in order to get child support from Yarbrough. She later recanted that story after police confronted her with further evidence.
“This man got played like a fiddle,” Griffin said.
Strimple described Yarbrough’s actions as of a man grooming a victim. He lured her by appearing as a trustworthy person, but later made her feel pressured into a sexual relationship by buying her gifts.
“That’s not an old fool, that’s a dirty old man,” she said.
Though Yarbrough denied ever having sex with the girl, he did recognize that he acted inappropriately. Before police uncovered any evidence of a relationship, Yarbrough and the girl exchanged more than 7,500 text messages. Many of those were professions of love and of a sexual nature.
“I am the adult. I am the person that should have known when to back up,” Yarbrough said.
Yarbrough could face trial in Coryell County for a second charge of sexual assault involving the same girl. Police have evidence that Yarbrough took the girl to a hotel in Copperas Cove, where they engaged in sexual acts.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553