Ex-assistant Canton HS coach gets probation in sex with student case
A former assistant high school hockey coach was sentenced Thursday to probation for his sexual relationship with a teenage girl.
Eric Locke, 20, was sentenced in Wayne County Circuit Court to two-years probation and does not have to register as a sex offender under the state's Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, his attorney, Raymond Cassar said.
"We are very, very pleased not only with the probation sentence but also the ruling of the court," Cassar told The Detroit News Thursday afternoon. "The judge really took it upon himself to look at the situation and see what was going on.
"In some small ways in his ruling, he vindicated my client," he said. "Today was a good day in court."
Under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, or HYTA, offenders ages 17-24 can be sentenced to probation for criminal convictions. Their criminal records are sealed and their cases are dismissed once offenders have completed probation.
Locke, a former Canton High School assistant boys’ hockey coach, had a sexual relationship with a female student between November 2016 and February 2017. The girl was 15 at the time and is now 16.
Charges came in March after Canton’s school resource officers received information regarding a potential relationship between Locke and the girl, according to police.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in May, according to court records.
"It was really tough on my client," Cassar said. "This is a nice young man who had a bright future in college. When you're thinking you could go to prison or end up on the sex offender registry for a relationship with a girl, your life gets turned upside down pretty quick."
His client has been in counseling to cope with the accusations against him, Cassar said.
Locke was scheduled to be sentenced last month, but a judge delayed the proceedings to investigate allegations that the girl involved in the case lied about her age, his attorney said.
"We were able to find her Tinder account, Instagram account and texts in which my client asked her about her age and she lied about it," Cassar said. "The judge went through the information very carefully."
He also said the case should serve as a warning to everyone about meeting others via the Internet.
"Be careful of who you meet on the Internet," he said. "You don't know if they're telling the truth about who they are. That goes both for boys and girls."