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A Pennsylvania judge has been charged in response to allegations of years-long sexual abuse of minors and other sexual misconduct.
Michael Schechterly, a Perry County Magisterial District Judge, has been charged with unlawful contact with children, corruption of minors, and indecent assault, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General announced in a news release issued Monday. Schechterly, 58, is alleged to have sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy at his house in 2012, and also allegedly touched his genitals in front of a child on another occasion, in addition to numerous other accusations, the release states.
Schechterly, who has been a magisterial district judge since 2011, has been accused numerous times of sexual misconduct involving children. He was accused in 2015 of having had numerous young boys spend the night in his office at the Magisterial District Court in Perry County for no professional reason, according to an arrest affidavit released publicly. Search warrants revealed the presence of pornographic videos in his office and home that featured young women involved in “BDSM type sexual activity” and being sexually abused, police said, but for reasons that were not disclosed in the affidavit, the Perry County District Attorney’s Office opted not to file any charges against Schechterly following the investigation by Pennsylvania State Police.
Pennsylvania State Police launched another investigation into Schechterly in 2019, following a tip from a man who reported knowing a minor with special needs who had been victimized by the judge, according to the affidavit. During an interview with police, the man said that the child in question, who had since grown into an adult, told him that Schechterly was a “weird guy” who would walk around his house with only underwear on while scratching his genital area.
The following year, police were informed that Schechterly had continued to have children sleep over at his office and in his home, even during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) lockdown. Surveillance video taken in Schechterly’s office outside of business hours showed him on one occasion with two young boys under the age of 10 on his lap; when one of the boys tried to move, Schechterly would not let him, according to police.
During a subsequent interview with police, Schechterly initially denied having sleepovers with children, but later admitted to it and claimed that he knew the children through a program at his church, the affidavit stated. He claimed to have struggled with a pornography and masturbation addiction, and admitted to masturbating several times a day and said that stains in his office were likely his own semen. He also allegedly said that he could not confirm that he'd never masturbated while a child was in his care, according to police.
His claims regarding the sexual touching of boys were inconsistent, and when seemingly admitting to having touched one boy inappropriately and on purpose, he allegedly said that he could not remember which boy it was because there had been so many over the years.
In a statement shared on Monday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said that Schechterly, who was active in his church and was a former teacher, betrayed the trust that the community had in him.
“Serious allegations show this judge violated the trust that the citizens of Perry County placed in him by sexually abusing a little boy. There may be other victims,” he said, before instructing anyone with any information on the case to contact call the Pennsylvania State Police hotline at 717-881-6937.
“We will hold the powerful and well-connected accountable to law just like everyone else,” he continued. “My office will investigate and prosecute anyone who abuses their authority to harm Pennsylvanians, no matter what position of power they may hold.”
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