CANTON (WWJ) – A former Canton High School hockey coach has been sentenced to two years probation after pleading guilty to having sex with an underage girl.
Eric Christopher Locke, now 21 years old, was 19 when he admits he was involved in a sexual relationship with a then 15-year-old girl.
A Wayne County Circuit Judge handed down the sentence Thursday after he said evidence showed the relationship was consensual.
Defense attorney Raymond Cassar said text messages in evidence showed the victim lied about her age after the pair met on the dating app Tinder, telling Locke she was 17 years old — which is above the legal age of consent in Michigan.
Cassar said it’s been a difficult case for her client.
“He was worried, he was concerned about his future. He was concerned about employment, continuing back with school, with college, all those things,” Cassar said. “And it ended up unfortunately with a lot of stress for him, for his family. But in the end it was fair today because the judge saw what was going on, he read all the information that was provided him, and he did the right thing.
If Locke successfully completes his probation and stays away from drugs and alcohol, the judge ruled he will not have to register as a sex offender in Michigan.
That’s important, Cassar said.
“He accepted responsibility because of the age situation; but, you know, this is such a serious accusation. If you’re listed on the sex offender registration act, you’re done! You’re not gonna work, you’re not gonna get a good job, most colleges won’t even let you be in their school.”
Cassar’s advice for young people in the dating scene?
“Get a look at their license; get a look at their driver’s license,” he stressed.
In a letter to parents posted on the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools website, Superintendent Monica Merritt said Locke was removed from all services with the district. He was employed by Coach E-Z, one of the district’s vendors.