A former United Pentecostal Church pastor and his wife, who were arrested at a bar in Indiana last summer for allegedly being drunk while neglecting their infant daughter, have been found not guilty of the charges.
"After 263 days of silence and public shame, we are grateful for the verdict of 'not guilty.' This verdict contributes to our continued healing from the loss and emotional pain caused by this incident. We now look forward to expressing the true story of who we are and what happened," Michael Trosclair, a former senior pastor at Turning Point Church in Theodore, Alabama, and his wife, Shari Tremba, said in a joint statement released by their lawyer Marc Lopez of Indianapolis.
Trosclair, 45, and Tremba, 42, were arrested by local police at the Wild Beaver Saloon in Indianapolis. They are both from Mobile, Alabama, but were reportedly on a work trip for Primerica. At the time of his arrest on June 16, 2017, Trosclair was a regional vice president for the company and Tremba reportedly worked in financial services for the company at some point as well. They were both charged with neglect of a dependent in a situation that endangers the dependent, and public intoxication.
Police alleged that Tremba was soliciting customers for beer while drinking and breast feeding an infant. Sgt. Ty Van Wagner said she told him the baby was hers after he began asking questions and was later told by a witness that she was offering sex to different individuals in exchange for beer. The witness alleged that Tremba breast fed her baby as she drank, and she had been at the bar since approximately 10:30 p.m.
Trosclair intervened while his wife was being questioned and Van Wagner alleged that he, too, was drunk.
"His gait was what I would consider an intoxicated walk that I have seen many times during my 25 years as a police officer,'' Van Wagner wrote in his report.
Lopez said the Marion County Prosecutor's Office filed felony charges on June 19, 2017, against the couple, but after deliberating for less than 20 minutes last week an Indianapolis jury found them "not guilty" of all crimes charged.
"I am so happy at the verdict in this case. And I want to thank Michael Trosclair for putting his faith into me and my law firm in representing him. When Michael hired me, he told me he was going to fight this the entire way. And we did," Lopez said.
Witness testimony showed that while Trosclair and Tremba were in Indianapolis for a financial industry convention they were accompanied by two caretakers who were charged with the care of their 7-month-old as they networked with other convention attendees.
On the night of their arrest, the group had dinner, participated in convention activities, and took a walking tour of Indianapolis, the evidence showed. While walking past a downtown bar, Trosclair went inside to greet a business partner while his 7-month-old daughter stayed outside the bar with Tremba and the two other adult caretakers.
While Tremba waited outside with the 7-month-old child, a patron of the bar called 911 stating he had seen her being neglectful of the child.
Witness testimony at the trial, however, contradicted the allegations of the 911 caller, noting that the only thing Tremba did was consume one 10-ounce beer. The person who gave her the beer testified that he did so about 10 minutes before the police arrived. He also said Tremba was not intoxicated.
When police officers arrived on the scene and informed Tremba to get her husband and that her daughter would be taken to the hospital to be evaluated she became upset. When her husband arrived and learned what was happening he became upset as well and they were both arrested.
The couple were both facing a level 6 felony for the child neglect charge which is punishable by up to two-and-a-half years in jail. The public intoxication charge, which is a class B misdemeanor, could have landed them in jail for up to 180 days as well.