A youth sports referee busted last month in Georgia during an underage sex sting took his own life after he was released from jail on bond, authorities said.
Brent Lawrence Parton, 38, of Canton, was charged with sexual exploitation of children and obscene internet contact after a four-week investigation by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office during which he allegedly thought he was chatting with a 12-year-old girl who turned out to be an undercover investigator, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Parton, who worked as a basketball referee for a county youth league, died Monday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home following his release from a county jail after posting $10,500 bond on Feb. 28, sheriff spokesman Jay Baker told the newspaper.
Parton also served as an umpire and district director for Dizzy Dean Baseball in Georgia for years, WSB-TV reports.
“My first thing is, you never know what people do in their private lives,” the amateur league’s national director, Chris Landry, told the station. “I’m in total shock. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Parton was arrested while on his way to officiate a basketball game at an elementary school in Canton, according to the station.
Parton was removed from his role in the baseball league following his arrest. He had passed a background check as recently as January, Landry said.
“If he’s guilty, I’m glad he got caught because I can’t imagine what I would do if it was my granddaughter,” Landry said.
The director of the county’s Parks and Recreation Department told WSB-TV that Parton, who was not a county employee, would also be banned from officiating its games in the aftermath of the criminal charges.
Funeral services for Parton will be held Saturday at Sardis Baptist Church in Canton, according to his obituary.
“Brent enjoyed coaching football, baseball, and wrestling,” his obituary continued. “He was a good friend and would do anything for anyone. Brent was always taking care of family and especially loved spending time with his nieces and nephew.”