Zachary Sheich of Lincoln, Nebraska graduated from the school district in 2015, but allegedly submitted false documentation to re-enroll for the first semester of the 2022-2023 academic year.
A 26-year-old man is facing sex crime charges after allegedly posing as a 17-year-old student at two different high schools and sending sexually explicit text messages to minors.
Zachary Scheich of Lincoln, Nebraska faces one count of sex trafficking of a minor. He also faces two counts of sexual assault with use of an electronic communication device, which the Lincoln Police Department defines as using technology to “knowingly solicit, coax, entice, or lure” a child 16 years or younger to engage in sexual activity.
As CNN reported, Scheich allegedly began attending two separate high schools in the Lincoln school district in the last academic year and went to classes for approximately 54 days.
“The district had been alerted about an individual impersonating a student who had been enrolled under the name of Zak Hess,” police said in a written statement.
As Zak Hess, Scheich enrolled at Northwest High School for the first semester of the 2022-2023 academic year before transferring to Southeast High School for the second semester, police said.
Lincoln Public Schools superintendent Paul Gausman said during a news conference that Scheich enrolled at the schools by submitting a birth certificate, an out-of-district high school transcript, and immunization records.
“All those documents turned out to be fraudulent,” Gausman said.
Associate superintendent Matt Larson noted that these documents had been submitted to the school online without the involvement of a parent. What’s more, Larson said, Scheich also seems to have submitted a fake phone number and address.
Larson added that the school is now “considering changing” the online enrollment process.
Per ABC News, Gausman said that Scheich “exploited” the enrollment process but that there weren’t any red flags overlooked during his enrollment, as Scheich presented “incredibly well-crafted, fraudulent documents.”
Police said that Scheich actually graduated from the Lincoln school district in 2015, but his height and weight allowed him to blend in with the students enrolled at the schools.
“Mr. Scheich is approximately 5’4″, 120 pounds, and appears to have blended in with other students,” Assistant Police Chief Brian Jackson told reporters during a press briefing.
CNN reports that an arrest warrant shows police gained access to Scheich’s cell phone, on which police found “text messages exchanged between Scheich and minor females.”
Allegedly, these included sexually explicit messages sent to a 14-year-old student, and texts to a 13-year-old girl that police say involve discussions of “meeting up for sex.”
When interviewed by police, Scheich allegedly admitted to masquerading as a student and sending sexually explicit messages to minors, but he also claimed that he did not sexually assault any of them.
Per ABC News, Gausman told reporters that the school district has identified “a number of people who are victims” and asked that anyone with more information come forward to either the school or the police.
“There may be potential victims of this scenario that we aren’t aware of at this time,” Gausman said. “If there are those out there that have been victimized in some way or another, we need to know about it.”
Scheich was arrested on July 20, 2023 and booked into the Lancaster County jail. Police say that since the announcement of his arrest, they have received three calls from potential witnesses or victims in the case. Other than that, they have not specified the total number of alleged victims, as the investigation is still ongoing.
Scheich’s bond was set at $250,000 during a court hearing the following day. He did not enter a plea, nor did he have an attorney.
After reading this shocking and strange news story, read about the time two high schoolers baked their grandparents’ ashes into cookies and distributed them to other students. Or, read about the Indiana police officer who accidentally shot a student while teaching a class about how to be good police officers.