Cherokee church volunteer guilty of child sex battery

A former Canton church volunteer has pleaded guilty to a child sex crime, according to reports.

The Cherokee Ledger-News reports that Matthew Brent Sheffield pleaded guilty earlier this month to sexual battery against a minor.

Sheffield will serve eight years of probation as a part of the plea deal he made with prosecutors, the newspaper reports.

The former volunteer at First Baptist Church of Canton was indicted in April 2011 on two counts of child molestation, but pleaded to a lesser charge, according to The Ledger-News.

Sheffield was accused of sexually battering a boy during a church-sponsored beach trip in June 2010.

He used to work for the church, and also is a former Cherokee County School District substitute teacher. He was fired from both jobs after being accused of sending illicit text messages and making sexually suggestive comments to male students, according to an August 2012 story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He later returned to the church as a volunteer.

Parents of the victim sued the church in August 2012, claiming that church officials could have prevented any sexual abuse by not allowing Sheffield around children. The status of that suit was not immediately clear.

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