By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — A former Wausau church pastor now stands convicted of child enticement after pleading guilty Tuesday to the felony charge in Marathon County Circuit Court.
Scott Patschke, who resigned roughly two weeks after his Sept. 9 installation as pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, 501 Stewart Ave. in Wausau, is free on a $2,000 bond and has been ordered not to access the internet.
Church officials in September confirmed Patschke resigned Sept. 22, five days before the charges were filed in connection with graphic text messages and photos sent to a person Patshcke believed was a 15-year-old boy.
Police arrested 53-year-old Patschke after discovering the graphic messages on his phone and iPad, according to the criminal complaint.
Patschke was a former pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in Independence, Missouri from June 2009 until he moved to Wausau to accept the position in Wausau, according to his LinkedIn profile. He is originally from Giddings, Tex., his profile states.
A presentencing investigation is set to be completed within 45 days. Patschke faces up to 25 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
In September, Bryan Graff, director of the board of lay ministry at Trinity, issued this statement to Wausau Pilot and Review on behalf of the church:
“On Friday, September 21 our Senior Pastor was contacted by a group which presented evidence of improper conduct by an associate pastor of the church. The Senior Pastor and the Board of Lay Ministry reviewed this information and promptly turned it over to the police. Because the conduct was inconsistent with the standards of behavior expected of a pastor, we met with the accused individual on Saturday morning. He confessed his actions and submitted his resignation as a pastor of the church. He also resigned from the pastoral roster of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
1 Peter 5:8-9 reminds us to constantly be vigilant: ‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of things.’
It is a sad situation, and we ask for prayers for all, including the former pastor, who clearly needs support to follow through on his repentance. The Gospel proclaims that we are redeemed through Christ’s blood and count on His grace to sustain us on a daily basis.”
An argued sentencing date is set for May 14.