[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
A man in Nebraska has been charged after enrolling in two high schools and pretending to be a 17-year-old student.
According to the Lincoln Police Department, 26-year-old Zachary Scheich was arrested and charged on Thursday with two counts of sexual assault using an electronic device and Sex trafficking a minor. A fraud investigation into Zachary was launched on June 1 when the Lincoln Police Department received a tip about someone impersonating a student under the name of Zak Hess.
Using the pseudonym, he enrolled as a 17-year-old junior at Northwest High School on October 20, 2022. But roughly three months later on January 12, 2023, Zachary transferred to Southeast High School. Zachary was registered for summer school. However, he did not attend. The suspect only spent a total of 54 days at both schools during the 2022-2023 academic year.
Assistant Police Chief Brian Jackson said the guy easily “blended in with other students” at 5-foot-4 and 120 pounds. And it was during that time at the schools he attempted to contact several minor female students by phone or computer, KETV reported. Law enforcement stated that none of the alleged crimes happened on school property – although there are a number of possible victims who haven’t been interviewed or ones that have not been identified yet. Per a search warrant obtained by KOLN, an investigator revealed that these conversations went on for months and he even meet the teen’s families at times:
“In these text messages Scheich would continue to reinforce his false identity as a peer and discuss things like classwork and high school sports.”
Zachary also allegedly tried to engage in sexual acts with a 14-year-old girl back in February. A month later, he then asked a 13-year-old to meet up for sex, to lose her virginity to him, and send him sexually explicit photos in exchange for money. Investigators discovered at least one record of payment. Awful. Lincoln Public Schools Director of Security Joe Wright said:
“I’ve been in the district for 10 years, and this is the first time that I can remember something like this happening.”
As for how he got away with it for so long? Wright shared that the minimum requirements needed to enroll in a public high school are a birth certificate, immunization records, and transcripts. In this case, the police said Zachary provided the schools with false documentation. He told the Journal Star that the district also has a “statutory responsibility” to educate all kids 20 years old and younger:
“Some parents don’t vaccinate, some homeschooled kids don’t have transcripts when they come in, we have kids from across the world who come in who don’t have birth records. What’s provided to us is sometimes not as thorough as we like or as proof positive as this kind of case would make you think, but that’s what’s required of us.”
Although Zachary graduated from Southeast High in 2015, Schools spokesperson Mindy Burbach pointed out to the outlet that his attendance was “spotty.” She also mentioned that staff turnover and how much time passed since his graduation most likely made it difficult for school officials to recognize him.
What a messed up case. Reactions, Perezcious readers? Let us know.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and would like to learn more about resources, consider checking out https://www.rainn.org/resources.
[Image via Lincoln Police Department, KETV/YouTube]