Tuesday, September 25, 2018 Elyria 72°


Former Columbia basketball coach charged


ELYRIA — Former Columbia High School boys basketball Coach Matt Sheets has been charged with giving marijuana and beer to a 19-year-old former student at the school in exchange for sexual favors.

The 31-year-old Sheets, who also served as a social studies teacher during his three years with Columbia Schools, was arrested Friday at his Medina home on charges of trafficking in drugs and providing alcohol to a minor.

Sheets had been on paid leave until he resigned from the school district in December. District officials said that Sheets never actually taught the teenager.

He fell under investigation after the former student tried to kill herself on Oct. 14 and her mother looked at her cell phone and Facebook account in an effort to figure out what motivated the suicide attempt.

Sheets was allegedly communicating with her daughter using the alias “Jerry Parsons” as far back as September and had bragged that no one could trace him, apparently a reference to his pseudonym, Lorain County Drug Task Force Detective Jim Larkin wrote in a search warrant for cell phones owned by the teenager and Sheets.

But when the mother ran the phone number for “Parsons” through an Internet search engine, she learned that the number actually belonged to Sheets.

The teen wrote to Sheets on Facebook that she would send him pictures of herself — she reportedly asked if he preferred nude shots or photos of her in a bra — if he gave her beer and “bud,” a slang term for marijuana, according to the search warrant.

Sheets acknowledged during an Oct. 19 interview that he met the teenager for a date at a bar on Oct. 12 and they engaged in oral sex.

In an exchange of messages before the date, the teen asked Sheets to bring marijuana with him and he replied that “you would have to be real nice,” Larkin wrote.

And while he admitted giving the teen beer and receiving nude texts from her, Sheets denied giving her marijuana.

Larkin wrote in his affidavit that the day after the date, the teen told Sheets she had a good time and would save the beer for the next night. The mother reported finding a case of beer in her daughter’s bedroom.

Larkin said Friday that his investigation showed that Sheets also made similar offers to share beer and drugs with women in the same age group as the victim in this case.

He said although the teenager also engaged in inappropriate activity, as a teacher Sheets is held to a higher standard.

“He knows better, that’s the issue,” Larkin said.

Jack Bradley, Sheets’ attorney, said his client will plead not guilty at his arraignment next week. He declined additional comment until he’s had a chance to review the evidence gathered against Sheets.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.


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