Former cheer coach Matt Tinkle pleads guilty to one count of receiving child pornography

The U.S. Department of Justice announced last Thursday that former popular cheer coach Matt Tinkle of Heber Springs pleaded guilty on a charge that he received child pornography.  Tinkle was the owner of the Tink’s Tumblers gymnastics studio in Heber.


Tinkle was arrested in January 2013 for allegedly raping a local 13-year-old girl. Following his arrest, further investigation led a grand jury to indict Tinkle on 2 counts of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. 


In exchange for a guilty plea on one count of receiving child pornography, the remaining two counts against Tinkle were dismissed.  According to the report, stipulations of the plea agreement included enhancements for use of a computer, for abuse of position of trust, and for engaging in a pattern of activity involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor.  Tinkle will also have to be registered as a sex offender.


In February of this year, Tinkle pleaded no contest to the charges of rape against the 13-year-old girl.  This was a separate charge from the federal child pornography indictment.  On this charge, prosecutors recommended a sentence of 10 years in prison. 


On the federal charge, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported that an iPhone confiscated during the investigation revealed images of the minor that met the guidelines for prosecution on federal child porn charges.  The report also says the girl stated during the investigation that she had received nude photographs of Tinkle as well.


As of publication the Court has issued no sentence, but Tinkle faces up to 20 years in prison, with a minimum no less than 5 years.  He also faces five years to life of supervised release and up to a $250,000 fine.


“This case illustrates the necessity of keeping lines of communication open and active with your children,” said Christopher R. Thayer, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.  “We place our children in the care of others with the intent that their lives are safe and their innocence protected.  The vast majority of the time, that is the case.  When it is not, it is often a parent who discovers the violation.  Thankfully law enforcement was contacted and the end result is that this child predator will be serving federal time as well as state time.”