Man charged in child sexual assault case

GREEN BAY – A teacher at a Lutheran school in Green Bay is behind bars accused of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

The school is Pilgrim Lutheran Church School.

The teacher, 27-year-old Wayne Makela of Hobart, is accused of having sexual relations with a 13-year-old student at the school.

Sheriff’s officials say this was just brought to their attention Wednesday.

Authorities arrested Makela Wednesday evening. Thursday he appeared in Brown County Court.

Makela began teaching computer classes at Pilgrim Lutheran six years ago.

He’s also a coach, counselor and youth leader at the school.

Now the married man, and father of one, is accused of having sexual relations with a student.

“This is very concerning to us being that it’s a staff member at a local school/church in the community here,” said Brown County Sheriff’s Captain Jeff Sanborn.

Investigators say it all began when a parent of the alleged victim discovered inappropriate text messages from the suspect to the child.

“We found that an adult male was preying upon a child to possibly have sexual relations with that child,” said Brown County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Jim Valley.

Thursday, Makela appeared by video conference in Brown County court.

Prosecutors charged him with six felony counts including sexual assault of a child and child enticement.

“We did have a confession of him admitting to doing these things,” said an attorney for the state.

Investigators say there had been sexual contact between the suspect and the child numerous times.

“One of the incidents did happen at school,” said Valley.

The complaint says Makela has known the boy since third grade, however its unclear when the alleged assaults began.

“Quite some time that’s still under investigation, the time period that it was taking place,” said Valley.

Court documents show Makela told authorities “he never meant to cause harm to the teen,” and “he meant to be a positive role model for him.”

School officials declined an interview for our story. I spoke with the principal, Ken Longmire on the phone. He said parents would receive an email with information about the incident.

We obtained a copy of that email. It says, in part: “We share many common goals with the Sheriff’s department in their ongoing investigation: the pursuit of the truth and justice, peace for all who are impacted by these events, and especially, the protection of our children.”

Sheriff’s officials urge all parents to keep a close eye on their children, particularly when it comes to devices like computers and cell phones.

“We should be fully aware of text messages being sent, pictures being put on there, internet history being done,” said Valley.

Makela is being held on a $50 thousand cash bond.

His attorney declined comment after court.

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