Brent Parton
Photo: Cherokee County Sheriff's Office
Photo: Cherokee County Sheriff's Office

Youth referee busted in underage sex sting shoots, kills self, officials say

One of the men arrested last week in a Cherokee County underage sex sting has died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said Wednesday.

Brent Parton, 38, of Canton, faced two counts of obscene internet contact with children and sexual exploitation of children, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said. He was the subject of a four-week investigation by the sheriff’s office, where he allegedly thought he was speaking with a 12-year-old online.

RELATED: Youth referee among 2 arrested in Cherokee County underage sex stings

He died Monday at his home after being released from the county jail Feb. 28 on $10,500 bond, sheriff’s office spokesman Jay Baker told AJC.com.

Parton was a referee for the county’s parks and recreation basketball league in addition to being an umpire with Dizzy Dean Baseball, Channel 2 Action News previously reported. He had been removed from both jobs after the allegations surfaced.

On the same day Parton was arrested, Mark Andrade, 26, of Dalton, was apprehended after a separate four-week investigating into his internet activity, Baker said. Andrade also allegedly thought he was communicating with a 12-year-old girl.

Mark Andrade
Photo: Cherokee County Sheriff's Office

He was arrested by Whitfield County deputies and charged with electronically furnishing obscene material to a minor, sexual exploitation of a child and violating the computer pornography and child exploitation act. 

Andrade was extradited to Cherokee County and has since bonded out for $7,125.

It’s the latest in a string of high-profile incidents that have rattled parents and caused schools, churches and youth sports organizations to review how they're screening those who have access to their children.

In October, a DeKalb County teacher was found dead in his car, five days after being interviewed about having an alleged inappropriate relationship with a student. Zachary Meadors, an English teacher at Freedom Middle School, faced several charges, including child molestation.

MORE: Investigators probe DeKalb teacher’s relationships with other students

Also last year, a man who volunteered in Cobb County as a wrestling coach was sentenced to 40 years in prison for sexually assaulting two Pennsylvania boys. More young men came forward with tales of abuse by Ron Gorman, but the statues of limitation prevented any other convictions. Gorman worked with the Pope Junior Wrestling club and also coached at Life University.

RELATED: Ex-Cobb wrestling coach sentenced for sexually assaulting Pennsylvania boys

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