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, N6638 Aspen Road, Elkhorn, has been defecating—sometimes several times per day—outside of and on a building at Natureland Park in the town of Whitewater since 2017, according to Walworth County Sheriff’s Office reports obtained by The 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 sites, 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 multiple times, occasionally having to pressure wash the building and repair 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 cameras also revealed 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 Oct. 8, the deputy saw Churchwell’s vehicle driving near the park and 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 and if it was in a park bathroom, Churchwell said “a No. 2” by the park building without a bathroom. Churchwell said he didn’t know if he had defecated on the building, according to the reports.
Churchwell said he was “being an idiot” and that he changes in the bathroom 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.
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.
“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.”