A judge ordered a man to admit to a newspaper that he lied to a reporter when he denied having sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl.
Michael Sheneman pleaded guilty on June 4 to felony sexual misconduct with a minor. He then told a South Bend Tribune reporter for a June 17 article that he had not committed any such crime.
St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jerome Frese chastised Sheneman during a hearing Wednesday, telling him that his conflicting stories had cast the criminal justice system in a bad light.
Frese asked Sheneman under oath whether he had fondled the girl and whether he had lied to the Tribune about it. Sheneman answered “yes” to both questions. Frese then ordered Sheneman to return to the newspaper within the next three weeks and admit that he had lied during the interview.
Frese’s order Wednesday also requested that the Tribune give the follow-up story the same “prominence” as the June 17 article, which ran atop the front page. The story in Thursday’s paper also was at the top of the front page.
“We see Mr. Sheneman’s admission that he lied to us as significant and interesting news, and we’re reporting it accordingly,” Managing Editor Tim Harmon said.
Frese’s order to Sheneman came in response to a motion from Deputy Prosecutor Liz Hurley to withdraw the plea agreement, citing Sheneman’s denial of the charges in the article. Frese took her motion under advisement.
He set the next status hearing for Oct. 8.
Sheneman could not be reached for comment because he does not have a listed telephone number.
Sheneman initially was charged with sexual misconduct with a minor, a charge that involves sexual intercourse. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to lower the charges to felonies that involve fondling.
Instead of facing up to 20 years in prison, Sheneman would serve no time under the agreement that Frese must approve for it to be fina