St. Johns County teacher accused of sex crime involving child

A St. Johns County teacher is accused of using the internet to entice a 14-year-old child to engage in sexual activity.

Matthew Christopher Yates, 27, of Hastings, was an eighth-grade teacher at Veritas Classical School, a classical Christian school in St. Augustine that teaches kindergarten through 10th grade. He was arrested after an FBI agent posed as a 14-year-old girl online.

The agent responded Feb. 11 to a notice posted on social media by a user who went by the name "English teacher," according to federal court documents. The supposed child told Yates she was 14 years old and in the eighth grade, and Yates stated that he was a teacher and suggested that they should meet up at the beach, prosecutors said.

The online conversation continued on another social media platform, and Yates (using the name “prof0987”) and the “child” exchanged photos of each other.

Yates and the undercover FBI agent continued to exchange text messages in following weeks, with Yates sending several photos that were suggestive or sexually explicit, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

On March 10, Yates confirmed plans to meet at a location in Jacksonville the next day for sexual activity, prosecutors said. FBI agents arrested him when he showed up. A news release did not identify the location.

Yates has taught at Veritas for nearly three years, according to his LinkedIn page. He holds a master's degree in theology from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, and a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Central Florida, his page says

Yates faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a potential life term of supervised release, the U.S. attorney said.