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Published: Thursday, 8/21/2003

Tennessee man faces court date in sex case

A Tennessee man already registered as a sexual offender in Wyandot County, Ohio, failed to show up for his arraignment Tuesday in Perrysburg Municipal Court on a charge of unlawful conduct with a minor.

Court officials said Harold Matthews, 47, of Sevierville, Tenn., formerly of Tiffin, had been in touch with the court and is expected to appear there today.

He was charged in March with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor after he allegedly had sexual contact with a 14-year-old Martin, Ohio, girl he met on the Internet.

As a previously convicted sex offender, Matthews was required to register every Aug. 12 with the Wyandot County Sheriff's Office, according to Sheriff Michael Hetzel. When Matthews failed to show up last week, the sheriff's office issued a warrant for his arrest. Through family members, deputies discovered that Matthews was working in a restaurant in Sevierville, near Knoxville.

Sheriff Hetzel dispatched two deputies to Tennessee, who arrested Matthew at work on Saturday and returned him to the Wyandot County jail on Sunday. He was arraigned in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, Municipal Court on Monday on a failure to register charge, a fifth-degree felony, Sheriff Hetzel said. Later Monday, he was turned over to Lake Township police, who booked him into the Wood County Justice Center on the unlawful sexual conduct charge, a second-degree felony.

In the Lake Township incident, Matthews allegedly met the girl in an Internet chat room and arranged to meet her at the Woodville Mall on March 15, police said.

Matthews and the girl later drove around the township before he parked his vehicle and allegedly carried out the illicit sexual conduct.

Matthews posted bond of $50,000 Monday, Wood County sheriff's deputies said.

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