Southwest High School coach makes first court appearance - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Southwest High School coach makes first court appearance

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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -

An English teacher and state championship soccer coach is out of a job tonight, accused of soliciting a child online.

John Sweeney, 36, made his first court appearance Friday in Onslow County after being arrested for soliciting a teen for sexual activity.

The Onslow County Sheriff's Office and the FBI arrested the former Southwest High School teacher and coach at his home on Thursday.

He bonded out of jail, and resigned from his job at the school he had worked at for seven years.

"I almost cried hearing about it on the news last night, because he's my teacher, and you know, jail's not a nice place," said December Doerrer, a senior at Southwest High School.

Doerrer and other former students of Sweeney are in disbelief.

"One of the girls this morning was crying. She was upset by it," said Doerrer. "He was a good teacher and it's hard to believe that this is happening."

Deputies say Sweeney inappropriately communicated with a 13-year-old from out of state using the website MeetMe.com. A warrant says Sweeney also texted the girl to meet up for sex.

"I'm pretty taken aback and shocked about it actually," said Urian Ackerman, a junior at Southwest High School. "He seemed like a pretty good dude, laid back."

9 On Your Side caught up with the coach at court, but he didn't want to talk about what happened.

"I appreciate that you have a job to do, but I really don't have anything to say. So this is probably not a very good use of your time," said Sweeney.

While students are upset about the allegations, parents are angry.

"It just don't make no sense why he would do it. I got two children myself and I'm a very protective father. And if somebody ever did that to my children, I'd be going to jail," said Hubert resident Thomas Pandelos.

People who live next door to Sweeney say they were surprised to see deputies' cars parked outside his home Thursday morning and they're shocked he's accused of this type of crime.

"Lock him up, there is no reason for anybody, a married man, for him to do that," said Ray Dopf, Sweeney's neighbor.

Sweeney taught at Onslow County Schools for 14 years, including time at New Bridge Middle School. The school district had no comment on his arrest.

Sweeney is out of jail on $10,000 bond. His next court date is January 9.

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