Another anti-gay religious leader has been caught with his pants down, so to speak.
Joel W. Hochmuth, 52, was sentenced yesterday to one year in jail with work release privileges and 10 years probation for the possession of child pornography. The sentence was handed down in Waukesha County (Wisconsin) Circuit Court by Judge Kathryn Foster, who declined to send Hochmuth to prison but, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, warned him that if he showed even the slightest sign of relapsing, his entire “25-year prison sentence will be staring [him] in the face.”
The FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force discovered several hundred photographs of boys engaged in sexual acts with other boys and men on Hochmuth’s home computer; they also found 310 photos and 38 videos on a flash drive in his Wauwatosa office. At the time of his arrest, Hochmuth was the communications director for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a conservative, virulently anti-gay branch of Lutheranism that, with 389,364 members in the United States, is the country’s third largest Lutheran denomination.
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) teaches that homosexuality “excludes people from eternal life,” calls it one of “Satan’s cunning, deceitful lies,” an “unholy lifestyle,” and a chosen practice, and explicitly condemns gay rights activists for their “efforts. . . to condone their homosexuality and to deny that anything is wrong with it.” Among its most famous members are Marcus and Michele Bachmann, whose Christian counseling clinic I busted for offering so-called “ex-gay therapy” in a TWO hidden-camera investigation last year — they belonged to a WELS Lutheran church in eastern Minnesota for over a decade. According to Hochmuth himself, the Bachmanns were members of Salem Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minnesota until just six days before the congresswoman formally launched her presidential bid.
Hochmuth, who was fired by WELS last November when the child pornography charges were officially filed, tearfully apologized to his wife, son, and church before yesterday’s sentencing. The Journal Sentinel article notes that he is currently on a self-initiated treatment plan that he began after his arrest. Here’s hoping it’s a plan that has a basis in sound scientific research rather than religion-based bigotry — unlike the “reparative therapy” treatment preferred by Marcus and Michele Bachmann — because as we all know, trying to plead away pedophilia is just as fruitless as attempting to pray away the gay.