Pastor’s sex crime charge may hinge on Supreme Court ruling

Scheil’s defense challenges constitutionality of law

By Jason Arndt
Staff Writer

The defense team representing Rev. Joshua Scheil, formerly of Trevor, has filed a motion to dismiss a sex crime charge based on a pending case before Wisconsin Supreme Court, according to a Winnebago County prosecutor.

Scheil, 28, had been a pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, Twin Lakes, at the time of his arrest April 12 on child enticement charges in Oshkosh, where he was attending a conference at Best Western Waterfront Hotel.

Josh Scheil
Josh Scheil

Scheil’s arrest stemmed from an undercover child enticement operation by the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Internet Crimes Division, which allegedly received an instant message from a “27-year-old white male from Wisconsin” identified as “Rev” March 1, according to the criminal complaint.

After the crime analyst who repeatedly identified himself as a 13-year-old female from Oshkosh, both parties agreed to continue the conversation on KiK Messenger, the complaint stated.

Leading up to his arrest, Scheil allegedly sent sexually explicit comments and images on multiple occasions, and told the analyst posing as a girl named “Maddy” that he will be in Oshkosh from April 11 through 13.

On April 12, Scheil was arrested at Asylum Point when he allegedly set up a meeting with the analyst.

Scheil faces charges of child enticement, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and causing a child under 13 to view sexual activity, all felonies.

If convicted, Scheil faces maximum possible imprisonment of 71 years.

Scheil’s defense has employed multiple strategies since the arrest, including motions to dismiss charges in Winnebago Circuit Court, which have been rejected.

Additionally, at the defense’s request, a change in judges had been granted.

According to Deputy District Attorney Scott Ceman, they defense has argued the validity and constitutionality of one felony charge, use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime.

According to online court records, Scheil is represented by Greg Petit.

“It’s a motion to dismiss the computer facilitated sex crime charge based on the defense position that the cellular phone and the application used by Scheil does not constitute a computerized communication system under the law,” Ceman explained. “Which they also allege is unconstitutional as overly vague in that description.”

Consequently, Ceman had to push back Friday’s originally scheduled motion hearing in Oshkosh, noting the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision.

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected to come down with a ruling on this very issue by the end of June,” he added, pointing to a 2014 case, State vs. Rory A. McKellips. “I got the Winnebago County Court here to adjourn the hearing on Mr. Scheil’s motion until the Supreme Court releases its decision … because it will have an impact on what happens in this case.”

According to online court records, he had been released on $10,000 cash bond May 31, contingent on multiple conditions.

Conditions include use of a computer for work-related purposes only, using a pharmacy system, giving the state permission to access the computer at any time, no unsupervised contact with minors under 18 and he must stay in Wisconsin.

Since his release on bond, Scheil has resided at an Oshkosh-area extended stay hotel. His wife has filed for divorce in Kenosha County Family Court.