A 25-year-old Newland man was convicted August 24 in on five counts of felony taking indecent liberties with a child and three counts of felony statutory sex offense with a child less than 15 years old.

The Watauga Democrat reports Mathew Paul Nieland, of 268 Trice Fork Mountain Road, former Watauga County Sheriff’s Office cadet, found his victims while coaching youth soccer.

According to the report, Nieland was in the first phase of a 12-week training program with WCSO when he was first charged in July 2018; he was subsequently terminated. Hagaman previously stated that Nieland's illegal encounters with minors would all have occurred in Avery County, while Nieland was an Appalachian State criminal justice intern at the Avery County Sheriff’s Office.

Judge Gregory Horne in Avery Superior Court sentenced Nieland to prison for a 16 years to 24 years and 3 months, and after release, will serve five years of post-release supervision.

Judge Horne also ordered Nieland to register as a sex offender for 30 years after his prison term.