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Fired WELS Official Pleads Not Guilty to Child Pornography

Joel M. Hochmuth, 52, is out of the Waukesha County Jail on $20,000 bail and is ordered to not use the Internet.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Joel Hochmuth was fired from his duties at the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod following his arrest.

The former communications director for Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, who was fired from his position after his arrest, pleaded not guilty to three counts of child pornography possession Friday morning in

Joel W. Hochmuth, 52, of Waukesha, waived his preliminary hearing during his court hearing. Another hearing has been set on the case for Feb. 3. Hochmuth currently is out of jail on $20,000 bail and is ordered to not access the Internet. Hochmuth faces up to 75 years in prison if convicted of the three felony charges.

Detectives from the met with a special agent from the FBI in mid-November, who told detectives that Hochmuth was using the Internet handle “Skiguy10101” had child pornography on his computer depicting “pre-pubescent and adolescent boys engaged in various sexual acts,” according to the criminal complaint.

Hochmuth told authorities that the number of images found on his computer in Waukesha “was nothing compared to what they would find in his office,” the complaint states. Hochmuth denied downloading pornographic images on his work computer but police located three thumb drives at the WELS office in Wauwatosa, 2929 N Mayfair Rd., that had images and videos of young boys engaged in sexual acts, the complaint states. Authorities believe boys shown in the graphic pictures ranged from 10 to 14 years old.

The Rev. Mark Schroeder, president of WELS, previously told Waukesha Patch that about the allegations against Hochmuth. Hochmuth was suspended “until the facts are fully known,” Schroeder told Patch.

“We take allegations such as these very seriously,” Schroeder said. “Our church body has absolutely no toleration for the behavior that is being alleged here.”

Danny December 16, 2011 at 05:46 PM
Enjoy prison. You won't last long there.
Johnny Paycheck December 19, 2011 at 05:06 AM
The whole of America right now is suffering from a prison fetish unlike anything we've ever seen in our our past... Unless I've read this wrong this guy was downloading it from the internet and not making it himself. Something like this should not go unpunished... but 75 years? That is DA abuse right there... Someone already put a great deal of thought into what the penalty's should be for various crimes, yet district attorneys are able to spin virtually any crime into a life sentence by simply charging the offender with 6 or 8 or 10 different law violations on the same crime. So we end up with all kinds of non-violent offenders doing life sentences-- and when the state goes broke we scratch our heads and then blame the school teachers on account of their pension and health insurance!
Ray Ray Johnson December 19, 2011 at 03:04 PM
Agreed on all your points. How about the guy getting some deferred prosecution by getting his junk amputated, and then by helping the investigation in letting the cops use common technologies to back search where the downloaded material came from and then busting the people that created or re-distributed the material? If this was a drug crime, wouldn't they offer some clemency if the guy ratted out 'Mr. Big'? I know, I know, then lawyers don't get paid, guards don't get overtime, etc. etc. I get the economics of the justice business, uh, er, system

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