A Lehigh County man who videotaped foreign exchange students and other teens in his bathroom received a harsh sentence Wednesday.
Michael Scheller, 44, will serve between four-and-a-half and 26 years in prison. After Judge Lawrence Brenner grilled Scheller, he blamed the crimes on various issues in his life, including losing his job, a falling out with his father, and his daughter's diabetes.
Investigators found 57 different DVDs of the students, all male and mostly underage, in the bathroom -- showering, using the restroom, and even sexually gratifying themselves. Three of them were in court for Scheller's sentencing, but none testified.
Many of the victims were foreign exchange students studying at Faith Christian Academy in Sellersville, Bucks County, where Scheeler was a volunteer. What they didn't know was that Scheeler was secretly filming them in the bathroom, using what prosecutors called a "sophisticated" and "pre-meditated" camera system.
"It was a fair sentence given the charges Mr. Scheeler pled guilty to," said his attorney, Everett Cook.
Cook argued for a lower sentence, but the judge said he wanted to set an example of Scheller. The judge asked him repeatedly why he videotaped the youths.
"So many times I've stood before you, and wish I could answer that question. This whole thing has been surreal," said Scheller. "I have disgraced my God [and] these kids I loved like sons."
The judge also ruled Scheeler a sexually violent predator, forcing him to register his address for the rest of his life.
"I believe he isn't a sexually violent predator," said Cook.
Cook argued that after prison and treatment, Scheeler would not re-offend again because he has no criminal history and he never touched any of the victims.
Prosecutors countered, and the judge agreed, that didn't matter. Brenner said that Scheeler was a predator and took advantage of the youths' ages and their cultural misunderstanding.
The 57 DVDs weren't all. Detectives also found evidence that Scheeler gave the boys alcohol and even sex toys. He also allowed the boys to handle guns; one photo showed a boy pointing a gun at another's head.