Commissioner pleads guilty to assault charge


SEVIERVILLE — A Scott County Commissioner pleaded guilty to assault charges in a Sevier County court here last week.

Trent W. Cross, 40, of Oneida, pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault on Tuesday, Sept. 19, in connection with a domestic dispute at a Pigeon Forge campground in April.

Cross, who represents the 5th District on County Commission, was arrested by Sevier County authorities on April 7, after they said that he fired a handgun outside a camper trailer at a Sevier County campground. At the time of the incident, authorities noted that Cross did not fire the handgun in the direction of occupants of the camper trailer, but into the ground.

Originally charged with four counts of aggravated assault, three counts of reckless endangerment, vandalism and resisting arrest, Cross agreed to plead guilty to one count of aggravated assault in exchange for the remaining charges being dismissed.

In addition, Cross was granted judicial diversion, meaning he can petition a court to have the conviction purged from his record after a probation period. He was sentenced to six years of supervised probation, and ordered to take a certified Batterer's Intervention Program, in addition to private counseling.

Because aggravated assault is a Class C felony, Cross could face implications in his role as a county commissioner. Felons are prohibited by law from holding public office. Cross, who is chairman of the Scott County Budget Committee, is up for re-election in August 2018. Because there are extenuating circumstances in Cross's case — the judicial diversion, which ultimately could allow his record to be cleared — it was not immediately clear whether the same rule would apply. That is a question that will likely be determined by the county's legal and election officials.

Cross also holds the office of Scott County's medical examiner.

Despite being a first-term commissioner, Cross has wielded considerable influence on the county's legislative body. In addition to chairing the Budget Committee, he also chairs County Commission's Intergovernmental Committee. Most recently, Cross helped to broker a compromise among his fellow commissioners when it appeared that budget proceedings were at a stalemate this summer. With commissioners stuck between a 12-cent property tax increase that had been recommended by the Budget Committee and a 6.7-cent increase that would balance the budget, Cross proposed a nine-cent increase — which was ultimately successful — that saved employee raises while nixing a proposal to add to the county's fund balance.

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