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Police Arrest WELS Communications Director for Child Porn

Waukesha Police Department serves a search warrant after being alerted by FBI about distribution of child pornography. Joel Hochmuth will appear in court for a bail hearing Thursday afternoon.

The communications director for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possessing or distributing child pornography at his Waukesha home, according to a news release from the

Joel W. Hochmuth, 52, was arrested in the 1900 block of Hunter Court after detectives were alerted by the FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force “that a person at this residence was involved in the distribution of child pornography,” the release states.

Hochmuth remains in police custody and police plan to transport him to the Waukesha County Jail to go through intake court on Thursday.

Detectives located numerous images of child pornography, according to the news release.

“We are limited on the information we can provide at this time,” the release from Sgt. Jerry Habanek states.

Hochmuth's LinkedIn page says that prior to working for WELS, Hockmuth was a professor at Kennesaw State and a CNN correspondant for 15 years. 

Here's video of Hochmuth's work in his role as WELS communications director.

Hochmuth made national news earlier this year as a spokesman for WELS when Congresswoman Michele Bachmann left her WELS church just before announcing she was running for president. 

Judy Jones November 17, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Hopefully others, who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Joel Hochmuth will have the courage to speak up and report it to police. Keep in mind your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others. Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511 snapjudy@gmail.com "Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests" and all clergy. http://www.snapnetwork.org/
Christopher November 18, 2011 at 12:52 AM
Harmed he isnt a priest, he worked at the WELS, the problem is these people putting this junk on the internet--Joel has a problem - God forgives when we repent. I wonder if his wife knew? God knew what he is was doing.
Deb November 18, 2011 at 03:44 AM
Judy, He is not a a member of the clergy. He worked in an office building, not in a church or a school.
Melody Elliott November 18, 2011 at 01:53 PM
@Deb whether or not he was a member of the clergy is not relevant. He was involved in the distribution of child pornography. If they Synod knew he struggled with this and did nothing (as the WELS did in the child molestation case with Coach Brent Biesterfeld). There could be a hefty civil lawsuit as in Brent Biesterfeld's case http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/29529999.html. It's my understanding the FBI came into his office and confiscated evidence. Anyone who is involved with child sexual abuse needs to be prosecuted. The children used and abused in the child pornography Joel Hochmuth was distributing were victims of a heinous crime. I hope the church will stop with the forgiveness for those who are not obviously repentant. The laws God has set is what will help this alleged sex criminal. God is a just God and hates sin. I thank God the FBI found him out and Joel Hochmuth will be held accountable and justice is done. If truly repentant he will help the FBI in their search for the other monsters who force sex on children. Why would any true Christian want someone to stay in their sin?
Joy Benefield November 18, 2011 at 04:09 PM
It's reported Joel's wife and he attend counseling for his addiction. Was this provided by WELS Synod (as it is in most cases)? If so then WELS would have known about their employee's problem. This is not the first time WELS has had this type of problem and had to pay for it. Why don't they don't check their employees computers for inappropriate usage? The WELS Synod sent out an email which asks for prayers: 1st for the accused pedophile Joel and his family, and 2nd the children who were raped, photographed and videotaped against their will - do they not realize their employee was satisfying his deviant sexual appetite using children - and in their offices? "FBI agent used peer-to-peer software which allowed him to connect with Hochmuth's computer and browse for files, and says Hochmuth was sharing child porn. The agent says he also chatted with Hochmuth online, and Hockmuch allegedly told him he likes pictures of males 10 years of age or older. " "Investigators found several hundred images on his home computer and 310 photographs and 38 videos on a purple thumb drive recovered from his WELS office." http://www.jsonline.com/news/waukesha/child-porn-charges-filed-against-church-official-v833nbc-134078618.html If this man is guilty and repentant he wouldn't allow his Attorney to lie and say he had an adult porn problem.
Deb November 18, 2011 at 10:40 PM
A couple comments: 1st - you are speculating that he and his wife had counseling through the WELS, you do not know that, so that is purely a rumor you are starting. 2nd - you do not know if his wife saw him with adult porn or child porn, sometimes these things are progressive, 3rd - I believe the article said that they found the images at his office on a a thumb drive, not his work computer.4th - His attorney said he thought it was adult porn that he initially had the problem with but that he had to look into it more. I think in all cases of this nature you would be better off staying silent, than perpetuating rumors based solely on your speculation with no knowledge of facts that haven't even come out yet.
Joanne K 'mcroberts' Hewitt November 19, 2011 at 03:24 AM
I agree, people should not perpetuate rumors. We are not the judge are we...
Hank Williams November 19, 2011 at 05:28 PM
http://media.jsonline.com/documents/Joel+W+Hochmuth+Criminal+Complaint.dot Case No.: 2011WK007546 criminal complaint on left hand side of page. http://www.todaystmj4.com/news/local/134007558.html WARNING very graphic. Definitely isn't what his attorney told the press. It is child porn in the worst way,
Hank Williams November 19, 2011 at 05:29 PM
Read the official complaint - it's a "Slam Dunk" case.
Hank Williams November 19, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Criminal facts are not gossip and attempts to call them gossip are only meant to deflect from the truth. Continually stating the obvious that we are all sinful is an attempt to deflect sin itself. Also statements of "who are we to judge and don't judge until you walk in other people's shoes," are contemptuous to God's Words and warnings.
Hank Williams November 19, 2011 at 05:38 PM
Synod President the Rev. Mark Schroeder issued a brief statement "praying for all who have been affected by the events" Why not say who those souls are? Children forced into sexual bondage to be sexually abused and used in terrible ways. Souls he should care about and want to help, not sweep under a rug. Why was it allowed into the Synod offices? They are all very learned men - they often say so. They know the Devil exists. So why not stop the temptation as other schools and businesses do? Every Sunday I listen to how I was born sinful and need to examine myself daily. Do you think they might apply this to the Synod Headquarters? I hope Joel Hochmuth the ex-communications director has opened wide the door for the FBI to come in and do a clean sweep of the whole Synod.
Hank Williams November 19, 2011 at 05:41 PM
So Joel's Atty lied to the TV cameras when he said it was only adult porn. Joel was standing next to him. He let him say it, even paid him to say it.
Bren November 19, 2011 at 07:01 PM
Melody, I knew people personally involved with WISCO and the Biesterfeld case. WISCO sent out a letter only after parent outrage demanded a response. There was fury that the story had to be shared by word of mouth instead of from their christian school. Biesterfeld apologized, then pleaded not guilty, raising a firestorm about the message he and WELS were sending to their membership. I know several people who decided this was the last straw with the WELS, because as Hank points out, there have been problems in the past, too.
Em November 19, 2011 at 11:20 PM
Hank, why are you assuming that Pres. Schroeder does not care about the souls of abused children? He has done nothing to make you assume that. What has he done to justify the charge that he is sweeping it under a rug? WELS is cooperating with the authorities and has fired Hochmuth. You wonder why it was allowed into the Synod offices? Because it was on a flash drive. I don't know of any school or business that checks employees' flash drives on a regular basis. Do you? Put a flash drive in your pocket when you go to work and see if anyone checks it for pornography. Just how is it possible to stop temptation? So, they often say they are very learned men. When and where did they say this? I have never noticed Pres. Schroeder bragging about being learned. So, Hank, you think the FBI would now be justified to investigate every single WELS employee? Just because one WELS employee is guilty of a crime, every employee should be suspect? That makes no sense. Also, it's unconstitutional under the 4th Amendment The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Where is the probable cause? Are people guilty by association? Just because they happened to work with an alleged criminal?
Hank Williams November 20, 2011 at 05:03 AM
I would suggest you read the criminal complaint and you will have a better understanding why I find his slow actions in firing Hochmuth puzzling. The complaint is extremely graphic and describes in detail what was depicted in the videos. I would have fired him in 30 seconds after reading it. The more important thing right now is looking for victims. The only purpose to carry a flash drive with graphic man/boy child pornographic video and photos would be to view the information you have stored on that. It's not used to prop to open the door or to clean your fingernails. It would certainly deter anyone from looking at children performing sex acts on grown men if they knew their employer could access their their computer at anytime. This is the case in most large Corporations and educational institutions. It is not an invasion of privacy. When you are at work you have no expectation of privacy, concerning anything you bring into the work place. This includes CDs, flash drives, emails. IM and web browsing.
Hank Williams November 20, 2011 at 05:04 AM
As I covered previously in this response. There would be no reason to bring child sexual pornography to work unless you were going to access it using your employers computer. He wouldn't have been holding it up to the light to look at it. And in hind sight it would be advisable for WELS Synod to monitor their employees more closely, thus lowering the level of temptation. And to quote a famous person, "What have you got to hide?" It is obvious to me that Hochmuth had this child pornography at his Synod Office out of fear his wife or son may find it. So it does look like WELS Synod was the weak link. WELS has the obligation to be swift and firm. For your information his office at WELS is not in his home, so all your rigamarole and misquoting of the law is useless babble. If the FBI finds reason to search other offices and computers at Synod I am confident they will. The FBI knows exactly who Joel was sharing the child pornography with. And they don't even need his cooperation or anyone else's to prove him guilty.
Em November 20, 2011 at 12:02 PM
I never said anything about invasion of privacy. I said that without probable cause there is no reason to suspect anyone else at Synod offices of child pornography. If the FBI has probable cause to search other offices and computers at Synod offices, they should do that. Just because someone works in the same building as an accused criminal does not mean there is probable cause. His colleagues are the last people I would expect him to share this with. "The FBI knows exactly who Joel was sharing the child pornography with. And they don't even need his cooperation or anyone else's to prove him guilty." I agree and never said anything different. By the way, it appears he is cooperating, as he should. It definitely sounds like he is guilty; he is admitting it. But the whole WELS is not guilty by association. You have no idea what the WELS does to monitor its employees, so you should not speculate. You have no idea whether he used his office computer to view these images. Also, someone mentioned the counselor. Any counselor, whether provided by the WELS or not, is a mandatory reporter, and it is highly unlikely any counselor would choose not to report this if s/he knew about it. Hochmuth would have been informed by the counselor that anything he said would be confidential as long as it was not in violation of the law or a threat to anyone. Knowing this, he may have chosen to speak only about his addiction to adult pornography.
Melody Elliott November 20, 2011 at 02:01 PM
@Em You speak out of turn, you have no idea what Hank knows and shouldn't speculate. You are wrong Synod hears of sexual abuse in the same office often. They know and have admitted so. http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/29529999.html. @Deb knows as do I and many others. This is not the WELS we remember nor want to. I read what it says in Hochmuth's criminal report and am sickened by it. You may not be able to read it all and remember it only describes 4 of the 38 videos. And just a few of the hundreds of sickening man/boy sex abuse photos WELS Synod has a responsibility to it members,their other employees and the community to seek out expert advice from organizations like SNAP. They should seek out what they can do to deter this. I should think it a worthy cause and one they would do better to protect the children, employees, members and community. The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’ Nothing is so fatal to religion as indifference. Edmund Burke
Melody Elliott November 20, 2011 at 02:17 PM
<b>Joel W Hochmuth Criminal Complaint,</b> Fact not rumor. For the record the presumption of innocence is a courtroom rule – not a real world mandate. We can make our own judgments on people and the information we receive. We’d be fools not to. We all have to care about being fair in the courtroom. But erring on the side of caution in public is the better option. Read and weep: http://media.jsonline.com/documents/Joel+W+Hochmuth+Criminal+Complaint.dot
Melody Elliott November 20, 2011 at 02:20 PM
Joel W Hochmuth Criminal Complaint, Fact not rumor. Read and weep: http://media.jsonline.com/documents/Joel+W+Hochmuth+Criminal+Complaint.dot For the record the presumption of innocence is a courtroom rule – not a real world mandate. We can make our own judgments on people and the information we receive. We’d be fools not to. We all have to care about being fair in the courtroom. But erring on the side of caution in public is the better option.
Hertha Hershey November 20, 2011 at 10:22 PM
Joel, his family and friends read "Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth" by Jeffrey Satinover. It will help.

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