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Milton teacher admits defecating in rural Whitewater park for more than 2 years

Milton teacher admits defecating in rural Whitewater park for more than 2 years

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MILTON — A Milton School District English teacher retiring later this month will pay $6,070 for defecating on buildings in a public park for more than two years.

Jeffrey S. Churchwell, 60, of Elkhorn, has been defecating  — sometimes several times per day — outside of and on a building at Natureland Park in the Rock County town of Whitewater since 2017, according to Walworth County Sheriff's Office reports obtained by The (Janesville) Gazette through an open records request. 

Churchwell was cited for disorderly conduct and agreed to pay a $365 fine plus $5,705 in restitution to the county Public Works Department, which cleaned the messes, according to the reports.

The school board 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. His retirement takes effect Jan. 16.

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 a park building and leaving used toilet paper behind.

Brooks told the deputy the person did this up to five days a week, sometimes multiple times per day.

The parks department cleaned up the mess several times, occasionally having to pressure wash the building and repair the paint. The department had received numerous complaints about the nuissance, according to the reports.

Brooks gave the deputy photos from trail cameras that showed a man defecating in the park.

The cameras also revealed a grey 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.

On Oct. 8, the deputy saw Churchwell's vehicle driving near the park and stopped him as he was driving into the park. Told authorities had photographic evidence, Churchwell acknowledged his behavior and said he was "being an idiot." He said runs in the park and changes in the bathroom, and that 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 he did it, 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.

The Gazette could not reach Churchwell for comment. However, he called Rebecca Kanable of the Milton Courier, saying he would talk only to her.

"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," he told Kanable without commenting further.

The school district was unable to immediately provide copies of the retirement agreement for Churchwell. 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 letter to the sheriff's deputy, Churchwell apologized and said he realized he made a mistake.

"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.

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