After more than nine months in prison, a former Washington Local Schools teacher who exchanged sexually explicit texts and photos with female students was granted early release Wednesday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
Matthew Warner, 27, apologized again in court for his interactions with three students — two were 15 and one was 17 at the time. He told Judge Myron Duhart he intended to return to the community a better man.
“I know what I did was very wrong, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about it,” he said. “You told me in sentencing that I need to do something positive, and that’s what I want to do.”
Warner was sentenced in February to three years in prison after pleading no contest to one count of importuning and four counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.
At the time, Judge Duhart sentenced him to one year in prison for each of the five counts, with two of the sentences to be served concurrently to the others.
In court Wednesday, Judge Duhart suspended Warner’s remaining prison time and ordered him to serve five years on community control. As part of his conditions, Warner must complete a sex offender program, submit to random drug and alcohol testing, and initiate no contact with the victims. He also must register as a sex offender annually for the next 15 years.
Judge Duhart told Warner that along with letters of support from Warner’s family — many of whom were in court — he had received a letter from the mother of one of the victims who “showed a great deal of compassion” and asked that Warner be given a second chance.
“Every day, you need to think about what it is you’re going to do to give back to this community in a positive way,” Judge Duhart said.
At the time of his plea, authorities said Warner contacted the three victims while he was a teacher and high-school track coach. The interactions evolved to where the girls sent him nude and partially nude photos of themselves, authorities said.
The incidents occurred between Jan. 1, 2010, and April 21, 2011, when Warner resigned from the school district.
Lawyer Jay Feldstein noted in court Wednesday that Warner had permanently surrendered his teaching license. He said Warner took advantage of numerous programs in prison and that he stood in court “a changed man.”
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