Crime

This former Tri-City pastor tried to have sex with a teen. Supporters want to ask for leniency

The sentencing for John M. Scheline, a former pastor, has been pushed out to September because his attorney needs more time to prepare with at least 10 people wanting to speak on his behalf.
The sentencing for John M. Scheline, a former pastor, has been pushed out to September because his attorney needs more time to prepare with at least 10 people wanting to speak on his behalf. Tri-City Herald

The attorney for a former Tri-City pastor swept up in last summer’s “Net Nanny Operation” said she needs more time to prepare for his sentencing.

John M. Scheline, 41, has been sitting in the Benton County jail since June 27, when he pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree rape of a child.

His sentencing was set for Thursday, but lawyer Christine Bennett requested the delay.

Bennett said 10 people so far want to speak in support of Scheline as a Superior Court judge considers how much prison time to give the Richland father.

Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Howell has said he will recommend a mandatory minimum of four years and 11 months.

Scheline is free to argue for less time behind bars. However, the sex crime carries a mandatory maximum life term, which means it will be up to a state review board to ultimately determine when Scheline is ready to be released.

A status hearing is scheduled Sept. 19. The attorneys must work with court administration to set a firm date with enough time for everyone to speak.

Scheline previously served as a pastor at Faith Assembly in Pasco and lead pastor of Bozeman Christian Center in Montana.

He was executive director of Ignite Youth Mentoring until he resigned in March 2017. He was fired from a volunteer mentor role with the organization after his arrest.

Scheline was one of 26 men caught in the July 2017 sting that targeted online predators who used various websites in an effort to have sex with children.

Scheline had placed an ad the month prior suggesting that a married dad was looking for a young boy.

After getting a response from an undercover detective who was pretending to be a father offering up his 13-year-old son for sex acts, Scheline discussed in explicit detail what he wanted to do with the boy. He went to the designated apartment, but left when the door was answered.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer
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