A Milton teacher retiring Jan. 16 paid a $365 fine and is paying $5,705 in restitution for defecating on a building in a public park for more than 2 years.
Jeffrey S. Churchwell, 60, Elkhorn, has been defecating — sometimes multiple times per day — outside of and on a building at Natureland Park in the town of Whitewater, according to Walworth County Sheriff’s Office reports obtained by Adams Publishing Group through an open records request.
Churchwell was cited for disorderly conduct and agreed to pay restitution to the Walworth County Public Works Department, which cleaned the site, according to the reports.
The Milton School District Board of Education approved the high school English teacher’s retirement as part of a Dec. 18 staffing report. The approval came after a closed session to consider a staff employment/retirement issue.
Churchwell has worked for the district since August 1990.
According to the reports, a sheriff’s deputy met with Brent Brooks at the Walworth County Highway Shop on Oct. 8 about a complaint that someone had been defecating on and next to a park building and leaving used toilet paper behind.
Brooks told the deputy that this had been happening up to five days a week, sometimes more than once a day and usually at the same time every day from September to June each year.
The parks department cleaned up the mess multiple times, occasionally having to pressure wash the building and touch up the paint. The department has received numerous complaints about the issue, according to the reports.
Brooks gave the deputy photos from trail cameras that showed a man defecating in the park.
The images also show a gray Chevy Malibu parked nearby and a partial license plate number, both of which were used to identify Churchwell. His driver’s license photo matched the man in the trail camera photos, according to the reports.
Later on Oct. 8, deputies saw Churchwell’s vehicle driving near the park and they stopped him as he was driving into the park.
Churchwell told officers he didn’t know why he was being stopped, but when asked if it would help if the officers had photos of him doing anything, he hung his head and said “going to the bathroom,” according to the reports.
When asked what “going to the bathroom” meant.Churchwell said, “A No. 2.”
When asked if the photos were from inside the nearby bathroom, he said no, they were from “over there” by the other building, which has no bathroom.
According to the reports, he said he didn’t know if he had defecated on the building.
Churchwell said he was “being an idiot” and that he changes “over there” and runs in the park. Churchwell said he also occasionally defecates in the park on his way to work at Milton High School, according to the reports.
He said he had been doing it since summer, but he later admitted he had been doing it for more than a year, according to the reports.
When asked why, Churchwell said “stupidity,” according to the sheriff’s office reports. The reports also say Churchwell stated he had done it at the park to be disrespectful and for the convenience.
In the reports, Churchwell is quoted saying in that it was a kick and it was anti-authority.
Churchwell by phone shared a statement with the Milton Courier: “After 33 years of teaching, 30 in the Milton School District, I have decided to retire. It’s been a privilege to work in this area.”
As of Tuesday, the school district has not yet provided copies of the retirement agreement for Churchwell, which the Milton Courier requested on Dec. 19. Under state law, the subject of a records request has up to 10 business days to seek a court order to prevent an entity from releasing the records.
In an Oct. 9 email to the sheriff’s deputy, Churchwell apologized.
“I’m so disappointed in myself. I have the great opportunity to teach ‘Political Rhetoric.’ … In this class, I stress the importance of involved citizenship. And then there I am being a lousy citizen of Walworth County. My hypocrisy now sickens me,” the email reads.
“As well, after REALLY thinking about why I did what I did, I came to the conclusion that I allowed my thrill-seeking, self-indulgent pride and ego both get the best of me.
“For that, I am truly ashamed. If the thousand students who — for some reason —respect me and my efforts here … were to discover this flaw?? Well, it wouldn’t be good.”