District court judge and “Royal Rangers” leader accused of sexually abusing a child

Perry County District Judge Michael Schechterly, 58, of Newport, Pennsylvania. [Image credit: Cumberland County Prison]

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On Wednesday, November 4, the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania filed a petition to suspend 58-year-old Perry County Magisterial District Judge Michael E. Schechterly after he was arrested and charged on November 2 with numerous offenses of child sexual abuse.

 

Schechterly was elected as a magisterial district judge in 2011 according to KDKA, and Penn Live reports that he had previously worked as a teacher in Halifax for three years, and at Perry Christian Academy for eight years before he began his law career.

 

After his arrest, Schechterly was denied bail due to being a "danger to public and self."

 

He has been charged with unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors, indecent assault of a person under 13, open lewdness with a minor, contact or communication with a minor for sexual abuse, and charges related to prostitution and sexual exploitation related to minors.  The offense date is listed as August of 2015.

 

The charges center around a single child that Schechterly is said to have met in 2012 through a "Royal Rangers" program at the Newport Assembly of God church where he was known as "Commander Mike."  According to the Lewistown Sentinel he additionally served as a sectional commander for the program which covered a six-county area.

 

“We’re actively investigating this matter. Needless to say, the reports really took us back. This isn’t what we’re about,” Reverend Gary Bellis of Newport Assembly of God was quoted by Penn Live as saying.  "At this point we're not aware of any kind of alleged activities occurring on the church premises."

 

People began to express concern about his behavior when, even during the height of the lockdowns, he continued to bring children into his office and was seen following a child into a restroom where a "significant amount of time" passed before they returned.

 

During the course of the investigation, it was revealed that he was having sleepovers with children at his residence, and a review of surveillance footage from his office showed him with two children younger than 10 sitting on his lap.  One of the children was seen to try and get off of his lap, but Schechterly restrained him.  Within his office, pornographic videos were discovered, some of which depicted the assault or abuse of young females.

 

During an interview with investigators, Schcechterly is said to have had difficulty naming the 12-year-old boy with special needs whose genitals he admitted to touching saying, "there have been so many boys it was difficulty to recall."

 

He additionally admitted to having an addiction to pornography and masturbation which he was reportedly seeking help with through a "Genesis" group at his church.  He called the investigation into the events of 2015 were the "wake-up call he needed."

 

"Serious allegations show this judge violated the trust that the citizens of Perry County placed in him by sexually abusing a little boy," Attorney General Joshua Shapiro said in a news release. "There may be other victims."

 

Investigators are asking that anyone with additional information contact the Pennsylvania State Police hotline at (717) 881-6937.

 

His first court date is scheduled for November 23 at 10:30 am before Magisterial District Judge Jonathan R. Birbeck.

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