Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announced today that Matthew Christopher Yates (27, Hastings) has been arrested and charged with using the internet to attempt to entice a 14-year-old child to engage in sexual activity. Yates faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 10 years, and up to life, in federal prison, and a potential life term of supervised release. At the time of his arrest on March 11, 2022, Yates was an eighth-grade teacher at Veritas Classical School in St. Augustine, Florida.
According to court documents, on February 11, 2022, an undercover FBI agent who was posing online as a 14-year-old child responded to an online notice posted by the user “English teacher” on a particular online social media application. The user was subsequently identified as Yates. During the online conversation, the “child” advised that 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. The online conversation continued on another social media platform and Yates (using the name “prof0987”) and the “child” exchanged photos of each other.
Between February 22, 2022, and March 11, 2022, Yates and the “child” exchanged numerous text messages and Yates sent several photos that were either sexually suggestive or sexually explicit, including one that purportedly depicted Yates’ penis. On March 6, 2022, Yates texted the “child,” using explicit language, suggesting that they meet. On March 8, 2022, Yates asked the “child” to meet in person on Friday, March 11, 2022, to engage in sexual activity. Yates provided the undercover agent with details about the sexual acts that he wished to perform on the “child.” On March 10, 2022, Yates and the “child” confirmed plans to meet, and Yates asked the “child” if “she” wanted to record their planned sexual activity on video. On the afternoon of March 11, 2022, Yates drove his vehicle to a prearranged location in Jacksonville to meet the “child” for sex and was arrested by FBI agents. Upon searching Yates, agents found him to be in possession of several condoms.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Jacksonville). It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
This is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.