An assistant boys varsity hockey coach at Canton High School is facing criminal charges amid allegations he had a sexual relationship with a high school girl who is now 16.
Eric Christopher Locke, 20, is accused of having an ongoing relationship with the girl from November to February. Chad Baugh, Canton deputy director of police, said the allegations surfaced after the girl’s mother went to a police school resource officer at the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park.
Locke was arraigned Thursday in front of 35th District Judge Ron Lowe on three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. If convicted, he could face penalties ranging up to 15 years in prison.
Locke was released on a $500,000 personal bond, but has been placed on a tether. Lowe ordered the coach to stay off school property and to have no contact with minors, including the victim.
Locke is set for a probable cause conference on March 10 in front of 35th District Judge Michael Gerou. His preliminary examination is set for a week later in front of Lowe.
Monica Merritt, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools superintendent, issued a letter Friday saying Locke has been “permanently removed” from the district.
“As always, student safety remains the number one priority of the district,” she said.
Baugh said Canton police spoke with witnesses and worked with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office on the case. He said police also executed a search warrant at Locke’s home.
Deputy Police Chief Craig Wilsher said officials couldn’t yet reveal any details about the search because the investigation is ongoing.
Locke is employed by the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools district through a third party, CoachEZ, LLC, which issued a statement this morning.
“CoachEZ, LLC, is dedicated to providing its school partners with quality athletic coaches,” the statement said. “The safety of our partner’s students is of extreme importance to us.”
CoachEZ, after learning earlier this week of the allegations, followed procedures and Locke “was removed from all access to assignments in the schools we serve,” the statement said.
CoachEZ and the school district have agreed that, until the case is resolved, Locke will not be allowed to provide services.
“In unusual cases such as this, our first priority is to follow policies and procedures that ensure the safety and support of the students,” the CoachEZ statement said. “Like the local district, our commitment and focus is on providing quality services to the families and children. CoachEZ is known for this and we will continue to strive for excellence in education in every district that we serve.”
The statement said CoachEZ “will cooperate fully our school partner and the Canton Township Police Department.”