By JOSH NEWTON
A former Tahlequah High School teacher and coach convicted of second-degree rape was granted an early release from state prison Wednesday afternoon.
Bradley Matlock pleaded guilty last year and received a five-year prison sentence, but the Oklahoma Department of Corrections recommended last year he be granted an early release upon completion of a sex-offender treatment program.
Associate District Judge Mark Dobbins presided over a one-year judicial review for Matlock Wednesday afternoon.
Assistant District Attorney Doug Dry said prosecutors initially believed Matlock was waiting to complete the program, but said he learned Wednesday that Matlock had already done so.
Dry said the victim in the case, a former Tahlequah High School student, “has gone through a lot of problems,” and lost her senior year at school.
“We wanted to send a strong message to anybody else that would prey upon youth at the high school,” said Dry. “We take it very seriously.”
The victim sat in the courtroom along with representatives from Help-In-Crisis. She wiped away tears as Matlock was granted his early release and the review concluded.
Dobbins agreed the case was a “very serious matter,” and said Matlock’s release will include four years of supervised probation.
Matlock was ordered to follow sex-offender registration guidelines, and to check in with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.
Dobbins warned Matlock about violating any of the rules, and stressed he could send Matlock to prison beyond the sentence he received as part of the plea agreement.
“I’m not limited by that five years,” Dobbins said.
Matlock was released immediately following the hearing.
According to a DOC report prepared late last year, Matlock was working as a tutor while at a state correctional facility and was receiving “outstanding work evaluations.”
The report said Matlock was planning to live with his wife in Tahlequah when released from prison.
Matlock’s plea agreement included an admission by the former teacher that he had sex with a 16-year-old student. Prosecutors said those actions took place on the THS campus and also away from school.
Five other initial charges were dismissed last year with the plea agreement.