ELYRIA — Former Columbia High School boys basketball coach Matt Sheets was sentenced to one year of probation Wednesday on charges he wanted to trade beer and marijuana to a former student at the school for sexual favors.
Sheets, 32, pleaded guilty to attempted trafficking in marijuana and offenses involving a minor in October 2013 as part of a plea deal that saw prosecutors reduce more serious charges.
In addition to probation, Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery also ordered Sheets to pay a $500 fine and complete 80 hours of community service. He also suspended Sheets’ driver’s license for six months.
Sheets, who also served as a social studies teacher during his three-year tenure at Columbia, resigned in December 2012 after being placed on paid leave. The 19-year-old girl Sheets plied with beer and promises of marijuana was never in any of his classes, according to school officials.
The investigation into Sheets began when the girl tried to commit suicide in October 2012 and her mother looked at her cell phone and Facebook account.
The mother found communications between her daughter and a person using the name “Jerry Parsons,” who bragged that no one could trace him, according to investigators. However, when the mother searched the Internet for the number for “Parsons,” she easily discovered it belonged to Sheets.
The investigation later determined that the girl had offered to forward photos of herself nude or in a bra to Sheets if he gave her beer and marijuana.
During an interview, Sheets admitted to giving the teen beer but denied giving her marijuana. He also acknowledged engaging in oral sex with the girl on a date.
Jack Bradley, Sheets’ attorney, said his client apologized for his actions during Wednesday’s hearing, particularly to the boys he coached on the basketball team. He said Sheets has moved on to a new line of work in business.
“He’s not teaching and not coaching, and he’s moving on with his life,” Bradley said.