Two different plots dubbed sextortion by the media, have received national attention.
An alleged blackmail attempt against talk show host Dave Letterman has been in the spotlight recently. Letterman reported that a man (a CBS producer) tried to wring $2 million dollars from him for sleeping with some female co-workers.
But a sextortion scandal that occurred locally was a bigger shocker because it involved New Berlin Eisenhower students, their school, and use of the internet to extort sexual favors. In that sextortion scheme, Eisenhower high school senior Anthony Stancl, 18, allegedly went online and using psedonyms, posed as a flirtatious female in order to coerce numerous male classmates (at least 31) into sending him nude pictures of themselves. Later, he blackmailed some of the teens into performing sex acts, threatening to reveal the naked photos to others. After examining Stancl’s cell phone and computer, police claim to have found a collection of more than 300 nude images and masturbation videos of Eisenhower boys. Dozens of folders were labeled with first and last names of students ranging in age from 13 to 18.
Stancl was expelled and charged with a dozen felonies, including sexual assault, possession of child pornography, and making bomb threats. This case is pending. Unless there is a plea bargain, it goes to jury trial in January 2010.
“Sextortion at Eisenhower High” is the bold headline of a seven-page GQ magazine article (August 2009 edition). If you like sensationalism, you’ll love the GQ article. Click here for the online version, but be warned, it is quite explicit and contains foul language. GQ’s report is riveting, information-packed and rather bawdy in spots. Sad, compelling, and explicit, it pulls the heartstrings. That coverage is mucho negative publicity nationally distributed and paints a less than flattering picture of our community, Superintendent Kreutzer, and Ike students. What was Dr. Kreutzer thinking when he gave such a high level of cooperation and access to that GQ magazine reporter? (And what a contrast to the lack of cooperation that I, a taxpaying District resident, received when seeking information and records pertaining to a NB West study hall incident involving Dr. Kreutzer and a former student—but that’s another story)
The GQ report is comprehensive and contains different perspectives.
It was especially distressing to read that "Wired" magazine posted the criminal complaint against Stancl on its Web site. It identified the victims by their initials and place of birth. Kids then went to Facebook, searched the Eisenhower network by plugging in birthdates and soon managed to learn the full names of the 7 alleged victims seduced by Stancl. ("Wired" later redacted the victims’ initials and birthdates)
When questioned by police, Stancl explained that he was bisexual, his previous year ( junior year) had been difficult, he’d been teased by students who thought he was gay. GQ also provides this background: when Stancl was a junior at Eisenhower, he tried to contact a popular openly gay classmate, but the boy’s female friends reacted by playing tricks on Stancl, even giving him a fake address. Afterward, rumors spread that Stancl was gay, ruining his already “shaky image” and he became “practically an outcast.”
Teasing. Harassment. Intolerance. Was that the climate at Eisenhower? Sex acts performed in school restrooms and in the school parking lot? A bomb threat written on a bathroom wall? Well, the costly camera surveillance equipment which has been installed would not have prevented the sextortion activities and bomb threats. There are no cameras in the bathrooms, for example. Making students feel spied upon is not conducive to gaining their trust. Camera surveillance provides a false sense of security. What happened was truly horrendous. Nothing, including a costly Expect Excellence PR campaign, will change that.
The article refers to Eisenhower’s “string of petty embarrassments” in recent years that were magnified online: A head football coach was suspended after a video showed him shoving a student on a rival team was posted on YouTube. A cell-phone picture of the JV football team urinating on an opponent’ s field ended up on the sports site Deadspin.com. A group of Ike boys set up a living room suite on Kreutzer’s driveway –and recorded the fit he threw when he caught them in the act. (The GQ article discloses the obscenity Kreutzer uttered during his outburst).
Although those three incidents received some publicity, the sextortion scandal was the worst scandal involving New Berlin Public Schools ever—and it happened on Superintendent Paul Kreutzer’s watch.
The GQ report describes Kreutzer as a “pugnacious, compact man, who at 25 became the state’s youngest HS principal & at 29 the state’s youngest superintendent". It informs us that Kreutzer is a “former college wrestler once nicknamed the Rhino. “ GQ also says: “Every morning, Kreutzer snaps his cuff links into place, adjusts his double-Windsor tie knot, and checks the shine of his Kenneth Cole shoes.” Hmm. Doesn't that sound kind of compulsive, elitist, vain? The article also includes these observations: Although superintendent of New Berlin’s schools for almost 2 years, “Kreutzer habitually mispronounces the town’s name”. “On the screen of Kreutzer’s IPhone, a Bible application sits next to a beer-pong game.”
GQ also reports that Kreutzer did not remain in the District on the day Eisenhower School was canceled, a bomb squad was doing its sweep of the school, and NB West was in lock down. So, where was he during this crisis? Uh, GQ says that Kreutzer was out for lunch at Stir Crazy in Brookfield and was taking the first bite of his pot stickers when his cell phone rang. It was the police. They had traced an email referring to a previous bomb threat. Stancl confessed to emailing it.
***Update: The Journal Sentinel posted a news report earlier this afternoon saying Stancl's attorney is seeking a jury outside of Waukesha County due to the extensive publicity this case has gotten.