Florida coach called ‘The Dude’ faces felony sexual charges

Cameron Smith

A prominent Florida high school football coach was arrested on Wednesday on charges that he used his authority to lure a female student into engaging in sexual acts with him away from school property.

As reported by the Lakeland Ledger, MyFoxTampaBay and other news sources, Lakeland (Fla.) George Jenkins High football coach Matt Thompson was arrested on Wednesday and charged with two felony counts of sexual battery by a person of custodial authority, charges which could land Thompson in jail for 30 years per charge if he is convicted.

According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, Thompson was recorded admitting having sexual relations with a teenager at the school, providing the sheriff's department with cast iron justification for charging the coach with the felonies.

"We have a recorded conversation where he admitted to having sex with a child," Judd told the media. "[Thompson] said, 'If you tell anyone, I will lose my job. If you tell anyone, I will go to jail.' I can't speak for his job, but I can tell you that he is going to jail."

Incredibly, Thompson -- who was given the nickname "The Dude" at Jenkins High -- caught the eye of investigators for something before any sexual improprieties were even considered. According to the Ledger,  Thompson was already under investigation by the Polk County School District for allegations of harassment, with parents complaining that their children were treated harshly by the coach, and other concerns about potential falsified information turned in by athletes before they enrolled at the school.

Now those investigations must seem like distant, even pleasant memories for a coach who is unlikely to ever get the chance to lead young men again in any capacity.

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