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Star-News (Wilmington, NC)
PENDER COUNTY -- A Topsail High School track and field coach was arrested this week after reportedly soliciting a 14-year-old former student for sex.
Ahmad Garrison, 27, of Holly Ridge is charged with one count of human trafficking of a child victim and one count of soliciting a child by a computer, according to Pender County jail records. In a news release Friday, Pender County Sheriff s Office Capt. James Rowell wrote that deputies arrested Garrison on Thursday when he attempted to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex.
"The sheriff's office began investigating Garrison when the girl's parents contacted authorities after finding inappropriate Instagram messages sent between their daughter and Garrison. The girl was a former Topsail High School student," Rowell wrote.
"Investigators also charged Garrison with human trafficking when allegations were made in which Garrison offered to take the victim to Charlotte and have her perform sex acts for money," he wrote.
Garrison, a teacher's assistant and the head coach of both boys and girls track and field at Topsail High, resigned after his arrest, according to the sheriff s office. In a statement Friday, Pender County Schools officials said Garrison was hired May 20 and confirmed he had resigned.
"The Pender County School District is committed to ensuring the safety of all students and will continue to work with the Pender County Sheriff's Department throughout this investigation," the statement read.
Garrison had his first court appearance Friday morning and is being held at the Pender County jail. According to jail officials, his bail is set at $1 million.
The sheriff's office believes there may be other victims related to this investigation, Rowell wrote. Anyone with information may call Detective Sgt. Steve Clinard at 910-259-1212.
Garrison also is listed as an assistant track and field coach on the website of Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. Messages left for that school's athletic director and head track coach Friday were not immediately returned.
On his Facebook page, Garrison indicated he was a coach at the J.H. Hurley Family YMCA in Salisbury.
A YMCA official said he has not coached there.
"I am unsure why he has listed himself as a coach at the Hurley Y," Laurie Ward, human resources and development director for the YMCA of Rowan County, wrote in an email response to an inquiry from the StarNews.
According to a 2007 StarNews profile, Garrison is a former student at Topsail High, where he was a track-and-field champion.
At that time he had received a scholarship to play football and track at East Carolina University.
Garrison is not listed as a sex offender in North Carolina.
Reporter Cammie Bellamy can be reached at 910-343-2339 or Cammie.Bellamy@StarNewsOnline.com
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