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Wisconsin Lutheran church official arrested for child pornography

November 17, 2011

November 17, 2011

Wisconsin Lutheran church official arrested for child pornography

Joel Hochmuth is Director of Communications for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)

Statement by John Pilmaier, SNAP Wisconsin Director

CONTACT: 414.336.8575

TMJ4 reports that Waukesha police arrested Joel Hochmuth, Director of Communications for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, for reports of child pornography. The FBI cyber crime task force determined that child pornography was being downloaded by someone inside of Hochmuth’s residence.

Hochmuth is expected to appear in court today as Waukesha detectives continue to search the hard drives of his computers for additional evidence of child pornography.  We applaud the efforts of the FBI and the Waukesha Police Department in their efforts to keep our children safe.

The President of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Mark Schroeder, told TMJ4 that “this is not in keeping with the Joel Hochmuth he knows.  And he is praying it is all some kind of misunderstanding”.

Although this sentiment may be understandable because the Synod President appears to be a friend and colleague of Hochmuth, it is important to keep in mind, as we are again learning from the recent developments at Penn State University, that those who prey on children are often respected members of the community.  Friends, neighbors, and colleagues often find it impossible to believe that someone they know and respect could be capable of causing harm to a child.  It is important to remember that most child predators are not lurking in the bushes; they are people who have often gained the trust and admiration of parents and their children.

If the charges against Hochmuth turn out to be credible it is important to know what steps the Synod President, Mark Schroeder, is going to implement to protect children.  Schroeder should immediately notify the congregations of the Synod of the charges that have been made against Hochmuth.  He should explain to his members and to the community how reports of sexual misconduct are handled by the Synod.  In addition Schroeder should reach out to his members and encourage them to report any suspicions they have of possible misconduct by Hochmuth to law enforcement officials.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is  

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