A retiring Wisconsin English teacher cited for defecating in a public park for two years told authorities he was “being an idiot” and that he did it for convenience and to be disrespectful.
Jeffrey S. Churchwell, who is retiring from Milton School District later this month, will have to pay $365 in fines plus $5,705 in restitution to the Public Works Department, which cleaned up after him.
The Janesville Gazette reported Tuesday it found out about the case through an open records request of sheriff’s office reports. The reports indicated Churchwell had been defecating outside of and on a building at Natureland Park in the town of Whitewater, sometimes several times per day, since 2017.
Authorities caught Churchwell on Oct. 8 when a deputy spotted Churchwell’s vehicle and stopped him as he drove into the park. That day, sheriff’s deputies had already spoken to a worker at the Walworth County Highway Shop who complained about someone defecating on a park building and leaving used toilet paper behind.
The worker showed deputies photos from trail cameras that showed a man defecating in the park. The pictures also showed Churchwell’s car parked nearby and a partial plate number, which was used to identify Churchwell.
When the deputy pulled over Churchwell driving into the park, the retiring teacher said he didn’t know why he was being stopped. But deputies asked if it would help to show him pictures of why he was being stopped, Churchwell hung his head and said, “going to the bathroom.” Asked what that meant and if it was in a park bathroom, Churchwell responded “a No. 2” by the park building without a bathroom. He also acknowledged he occasionally defecates in the park on the way to school.
A day after his arrest, Churchwell wrote to the sheriff’s deputy who stopped him and apologized and said he realizes he made a mistake.
“I’m so disappointed in myself,” Churchwell said in an email. “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,” he said, adding that he’s sickened by his hypocrisy.
“As well, after REALLY thinking about why I did what I did,” the email continued, “I came to the conclusion that I allowed my thrill-seeking, self-indulgent pride and ego both get the best of me.”