COLUMBIA STATION — Columbia High School social studies teacher and head boys basketball Coach Matt Sheets has been placed on paid administrative leave while school officials await the results of an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations he was providing beer and marijuana to a 19-year-old former student at the school.
Sheets, who joined the district three years ago, fell under suspicion after the former student attempted suicide on Oct. 14 and her mother looked at her cell phone and Facebook account while trying to figure out what led her daughter to harm herself.
In an affidavit requesting a search warrant for cell phones owned by the teenager and Sheets, Lorain County Drug Task Force Detective Jim Larkin wrote that the mother discovered text messages on her daughter’s phone that indicated she and Sheets were “hooking up” and that he was giving her marijuana and beer.
The mother also learned that Sheets was corresponding with her daughter using the alias “Jerry Parsons,” a name that showed up both in her phone and on her Facebook account. The mother reported to deputies that she had found evidence of Sheets and her daughter corresponding on Facebook with each other as far back as late September, but on Oct. 6 her daughter began talking to “Parsons” over Facebook.
“In the messages, copies of which (the mother) gave to your affiant, ‘Jerry Parsons’ aka Matt Sheets wrote that no one can trace him, presumably referring to his use of the alter ego ‘Jerry Parsons,’ ” Larkin wrote.
Sheets’ number was listed under the Parsons pseudonym in the teenager’s cell phone, which her mother learned belonged to him by searching for the number using an online search engine, according to the affidavit.
In Facebook messages exchanged by the couple, the teenager wrote to Sheets that she would send him pictures or whatever he wanted if he would give her beer and marijuana, which was referred to in the messages by the slang term, “bud,” Larkin wrote.
She also asked if he wanted to see her naked or in a bra and panties and appears to have forwarded him pictures, according to the affidavit.
In one exchange setting up an Oct. 12 date at a local bar, the teenager asked Sheets to bring marijuana with him, Larkin wrote.
Sheets allegedly responded that “you would have to be real nice” and “some (expletive) like that would have to be a real special person, super nice.”
The teenager then told Sheets that he should hurry up and she would take the pictures, Larkin wrote.
When Larkin, who declined additional comment on the case, confronted Sheets on Oct. 19, the teacher said he met the teenager for the date at a bar and that they engaged in oral sex.
Larkin wrote that while Sheets admitted to giving the teenager beer, he denied giving her marijuana. He also acknowledged that he received nude texts from her.
The day after the date, according to the affidavit, the teenager told Sheets that she had a good time the night before and would see him the next week.
“(The teenager) says in the message that she will save the beer for tomorrow night, indicating that ‘Jerry Parsons’ aka Matt Sheets did give her the beer,” Larkin wrote.
The mother reported finding a full case of beer in her daughter’s bedroom.
Columbia Schools Superintendent Graig Bansek said once deputies contacted him about their investigation he placed Sheets on leave.
“People need to know that these are all allegations until the investigation is complete and the district will conduct its own investigation,” he said.
There’s no rule that bars teachers in the district from dating former students once they are no longer affiliated with the school, Bansek said. He said Sheets never had the teenager as a student in any of his classes and there’s no indication that they had a relationship while she attended school there. She graduated from another school district, he said.
Bansek said he was surprised to learn of the allegations against Sheets.
“He’s a good teacher and very, very involved in the high school and things that go on in the high school,” Bansek said.
Jack Bradley, Sheets’ attorney, said he’s hopeful the investigation will be completed quickly so his client and the district can move forward.
“We’ve been waiting for the detectives to complete their investigation and we’re going to go from there,” he said.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.