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Former president of Salt Lake Figure Skating arrested for trying to have sex with minor

Posted at 7:19 PM, Dec 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-04 00:38:08-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Investigators with the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office have arrested the former president of the Salt Lake Figure Skating club on suspicion of trying to have sex with a 13-year-old girl he met online.

The DA's office reports that Matthew Gregory Shepard, 45, asked the teenage girl for explicit photos before they tried to meet up. When he arrived at the predetermined location, he found out he was actually meeting with an officer.

Robert Walton-Steadman, the current president of the Salt Lake Figure Skating club, said he took over for Shepard earlier this year.

Because of his role in the organization, Shepard worked "very closely" with children, Walton-Steadman said, before he announced he was stepping down from the position for health reasons.

Figure skater Rebecca Dearing said she felt sick to her stomach when she heard the news and read the police report.

"I've known Matt, not personally, for a lot of years," Dearing said. "I feel like I'm going to throw up... I mean, he has three beautiful kids!"

District Attorney Sim Gill credited a new child exploitation task force for the arrest.

"This kind of behavior is far more prolific than what people anticipated," Gill said. "If you’re going to engage in this behavior, and you’re going to engage in it in Salt Lake County, we’re going to find you. We’re going to hunt you down. We’re going to aggressively prosecute you, and we’re going to severely punish you."

Gill said he could not comment on what charges will be filed or if he has any reason to believe Shepard had inappropriate contact with the children he worked with at the figure skating rink.

"I skate with these kids all the time and to even consider that? Ugh," Dearing shuddered. "That makes me want to cry actually."

Dearing said she has always thought highly of Shepard and never noticed anything suspicious. She hopes the allegations are not true.

"It really breaks my heart because you have so much trust and love for people, and to see something like that is really really hard," she said. "Because you don’t want to think that that person is capable of that."

Since Shepard was arrested in November, he has posted bail and is back home with his family.

When FOX 13 attempted to speak with Shepard at his home in Murray, his mother said he was out "running errands" and is "working very hard on straightening this out."