A 26-year-old man has been charged with sex crimes after enrolling in a public school in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he pretended to be 17, police say.
Arrested Thursday, Zachary Scheich faces two counts of sexual assault using an electronic communication device, including any attempt to “knowingly solicit, coax, entice, or lure” a child 16 or under into sexual activity, Lincoln police said. Scheich is also charged with one count of sex trafficking of a minor.
Scheich is believed to have attended two high schools in the Lincoln school district during the past school year and attended classes for about 54 days, police say.
“The district was alerted about an individual posing as a student enrolled under the name of Zak Hess,” the Lincoln Police Department said in a written statement.
Scheich was first enrolled at Northwest High School during the first semester of the 2022-2023 academic year and then transferred to Southeast High School during the second semester, police said in the statement.
At a news conference Friday, Lincoln Public Schools superintendent Paul Gausman said Scheich enrolled by submitting a birth certificate, a transcript from an out-of-district high school and immunization records.
“All those documents turned out to be fraudulent,” says Gausman.
The documents were submitted to the school online without a parent present, Superintendent Matt Larson said. The online enrollment process is “something we are considering changing,” he said.
An arrest warrant obtained by CNN affiliate KOLN says police accessed Scheich’s cell phone during a search and found “text messages exchanged between Scheich and underage women.”
Police found sexually explicit messages sent to a 14-year-old college student, they said. Scheich also allegedly texted a 13-year-old girl to talk about “meeting up for sex.”
During an interview with authorities, Scheich reportedly admitted that he pretended to be a student at the school and sent explicit messages to children, but said he had not sexually assaulted any of them.
“We have identified a number of people who are victims,” Chief Inspector Gausman said, but declined to give an exact number.
Bond for Scheich was set at $250,000 in a court hearing Friday, KOLN reported. Scheich did not plead and had no attorney. CNN reached out to the public defender’s office for comment on Friday.
CNN’s Jennifer Feldman and Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.
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