Former Marshall County football coach Ron Barnard was arrested Wednesday and faces four counts related to sexual misconduct with a juvenile.
Barnard was charged with two counts of distributing obscene matter to minors, one count of solicitation to promote sexual performance by a minor and one count of unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in sexual or other prohibited activities. He was arrested Wednesday morning, questioned at the Marshall County Sheriff's Department and lodged at the Marshall County Jail on a $10,000 cash bond, according to Sheriff Kevin Byars.
The six-month investigation began in December when Superintendent Trent Lovett notified the sheriff's department regarding a couple incidents with Barnard "that sent up a red flag." Lovett turned the investigation over to the department but stayed in contact as it progressed until "justice was served," he said.
"Our number one priority is student safety and doing our best to make sure every student feels safe," Lovett said. "When school comes back into session, we want it to be a peaceful, safe environment."
The alleged actions concern a 15-year-old minor from Marshall County High School, but the sheriff's department believes there could be additional victims.
"This is an extremely serious matter. No matter how big or small, anyone who has been affected should contact us at the school or the authorities and make a report," Lovett said.
Byars said the investigation will continue, but police decided they had enough evidence to charge Barnard. Several electronic devices used by Barnard from the high school were seized as evidence.
"The school was instrumental is helping with our investigation," he said. "They didn't sweep anything under the rug and were focused on providing a safe learning environment."
He resigned as football coach on March 1 with a 16-28 record over four seasons. He was named the Marshals' coach in January 2010. Lovett said the investigation "possibly affected" Barnard's decision to resign.
Barnard was also a business teacher at Marshall County High School, but his position was set to be eliminated at the end of his contract this month. Lovett plans to submit information about Barnard to the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board. The board is in charge of issuing and renewing certificates for all teachers and administrators in the state.
Prior to the position with Marshall County Schools, Barnard served as an assistant coach at Mayfield, Graves County, Paducah Tilghman, Mercer County, Ill., and Campbellsville schools.
Evan Merrick, who served as an assistant coach for eight seasons and defensive coordinator last year, was hired to replace Barnard in April.
Barnard was in a single-vehicle accident in January when his vehicle hit a tree along U.S. 68. He was taken to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Ind., with serious injuries and released two days later, according to Sun files.
Byars said the investigation is ongoing and more charges could be filed if additional information is obtained. Anyone with information or who may be a victim should contact the Marshall County Sheriff's Department at 270-527-3112, or 270-527-1333 for after-hours dispatch, and ask for Byars or Det. Matt Hilbrecht.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.
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