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27-year-old man accused of posing as high school student, then sending explicit text messages to girls as young as 13

Screenshot of Lancaster County Department of Corrections website

A 27-year-old Nebraska man has been arrested after he posed as a high school student and began exchanging sexually explicit text messages with girls as young as 13, police say.

According to reports, 27-year-old Zachary Scheich attended 54 days of school in the Lincoln Public Schools district during the 2022-23 school year. Prosecutors claimed he enrolled online, presenting the district with forged documents, including a birth certificate and education transcripts, to pass himself off as 17-year-old Zak Hess.

Scheich allegedly first enrolled at Northwest High School. However, he then apparently became so brazen that he transferred to Southeast High School, the school from which he graduated in 2015. He also reportedly enrolled in summer school but never attended.

26-year-old man arrested for sexual assault after allegedly posing as 17-year-old at 2 Lincoln hi...www.youtube.com

While at the two schools, the 5-foot-4, 120-pound Scheich, who was then 26, "appears to have blended in with other students," said Lincoln Police Assistant Chief Brian Jackson. During that time, Scheich also allegedly began initiating relationships with young girls, in some cases even meeting the girls' families. In one instance, Scheich allegedly sent a 14-year-old girl messages asking her to engage in sexual acts with him.

He also made similar contact with a 13-year-old, police say, sending her money and then requesting nude photos from her via text message. Reports indicate she complied on at least one occasion. "So what do I get this time??" she reportedly asked Scheich after sending the image.

On Thursday, Scheich, who is reportedly the son of a local Lutheran pastor, was arrested at Walt Library Branch in Lincoln. Investigators then searched his apartment, located near Southeast High School, where they reportedly found his cellphone and uncovered the explicit exchanges. Scheich has been charged with two counts of child enticement and one count of sex trafficking a minor. He remains in custody at the Lancaster County Adult Detention Facility on $250,000 bond.

After Scheich's arrest, at least three other individuals came forward in connection with the case, police said, though whether those individuals claimed to have been victimized or simply to offer information regarding the investigation is unclear. Police have expressed concerns that there may be more victims out there.

Now that the suspect is out of school and in custody, district officials are facing questions from parents and other members of the community who wonder how a grown man managed to sneak his way into area high schools. "Some parents don’t vaccinate; some homeschool kids don’t have transcripts," claimed Joe Wright, security director for LPS. "We have kids from all across the world who don’t have birth records from war-torn countries. We have a responsibility to educate all kids."

KOLN also reported that federal law requires school districts to admit anyone claiming to be under 21 who wants to be educated, even if they do not have the proper documentation. The purpose of the law is to accommodate "students experiencing homelessness," the outlet reported.

The following is a letter LPS sent home to parents regarding the allegations against Scheich:

Northwest families,

We want to make you aware of an investigation we are cooperating with Lincoln police on, and we are asking for your help.

Here are the details we know currently:

Late in the afternoon on May 31, LPS received a report that an adult male may be attending one of our high schools pretending to be a junior. LPS Student Services and Security immediately contacted Lincoln Police to investigate.

LPS Student Services and Security continued to assist the investigation, turning over information as it was discovered.

In mid-July, LPD confirmed that 26-year-old Zachary Scheich did enroll and attend two LPS high schools during the 2022-23 school year under the name Zak Hess.

Scheich began attending Northwest High School on October 20, 2022.

Scheich then transferred to Southeast High School on January 12, 2023.

Scheich was registered to attend summer school, but did not attend.

On July 20, Lincoln Police arrested Zachary Scheich.

Northwest families, Lincoln Police and LPS are asking for your help. If you are aware or witnessed any concerning relationships Scheich may have had with students, please report it to the Lincoln Police Department by calling (402)441-6000. Below is a copy of his photo.

In light of this incident, LPS is reviewing our enrollment procedures.

School safety takes a community. We appreciate those who came forward to share their concerns. If you see or hear something that makes you feel unsafe, please share it with us through the green Safe to Say button on our website, or call Lincoln Police at (402)441-6000.

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