DECATUR — A registered Decatur sex offender who broke the law by visiting his child’s school without getting official permission first was sentenced Tuesday to 24 months probation.
Benjamin D. Mattingly, 29, pleaded guilty in Macon County Circuit Court to one count of being a child sex offender in a school zone, a Class 4 felony. He was also fined $300 and ordered to pay court costs.
Assistant Macon County State’s Attorney Kate Kurtz said Mattingly had visited Parsons Elementary School on Jan. 25 and had not informed or sought the permission of the school board or district superintendent, as required by law.
Mattingly is subject to sex offender registration rules after being convicted in 2007 of the aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim under the age of 13. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Kurtz told Judge Thomas Griffith that Decatur police questioned Mattingly after his Parsons visit came to light and the defendant said at the time a relative worked at the school and he thought she had obtained permission on his behalf. Kurtz said the sex offender registration rules allow for offenders to attend events and meetings at schools their own children attend, but they must get permission in advance.
“The defendant did not get permission through the proper channels; had he done so, this would have been a permissible event for for him to attend,” added Kurtz.
Defense attorney Philip Tibbs said Mattingly was working with the Decatur School District to ensure he obtains the correct permissions for future school visits.
The Decatur Public School District in February released a statement about the incident, saying that officials were aware of parent concerns at the school and followed the appropriate protocol to address the situation. A district spokeswoman previously declined to elaborate further.