John Dwight Scheiding, a 28-year-old Deputy with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department, is accused of having a sexual relationship with an underaged girl. He is facing charges of having child sexually abusive material, also known as child pornography, on an electronic device.
According to information provided by the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Department, the allegations against Scheiding are very troubling for the whole department, but they believe that they are obligated to let the public know what has happened. Scheiding is currently suspended without pay from his position.
According to police records, Scheiding’s wife discovered an iPad belonging to her husband that contained sexually explicit messages shared between Scheiding and a 17-year-old girl. The iPad was later discovered to have both sexual text messages and nude images.
According to Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Mike Fink, Scheiding sometimes communicated with the girl while he was on duty at the Sheriff’s Department. He is also alleged to have solicited sexually explicit images from her.
In an interview with the girl, she admitted to police that she and Scheiding had seuxal contact. She claimed that the relationship began after her 16th birthday when he began to send her more and more frequent texts that were flirtatious in nature. The girl also admitted that they had since exchanged nude images of themselves with each other. She further claimed that Scheiding had told her not to tell anyone about their relationship.
Scheiding has been charged with a single count of possession of child sexually abusive material, two counts of distributing sexually explicit material to children, and single counts of using a computer to commit a crime, and willful neglect of duty.
Under Michigan law, possession of child sexually abusive material and distributing sexually explicit material to children are both felonies punishable by up to four years in prison and fines of $10,000. In addition, using a computer to commit a crime would be a felony in this case, because the underlying crime is a felony. In this instance, because of the specific nature of the underlying crime, this particular charge is punishable by up to four years and a fine of up to $5,000. Willful neglect of duty is a misdemeanor.
The reason for why Scheiding is being charged for child sexually abusive material but not criminal sexual conduct, is that the alleged victim in this case is over the age of consent for sexual contact. However, under Michigan law, it is a crime to possess or disseminate sexually abusive material or lewd photographs of a person older than 16, but younger than 18.