Sep. 18, 2007 · A judge ordered an Indiana man who pleaded guilty to having sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl to admit he lied about the incident to a reporter.
Michael Sheneman, a 55-year-old real estate investor, pleaded guilty on June 4 to felony sexual misconduct with a minor. Less than two weeks later, he told a South Bend Tribune reporter he was innocent of all charges.
St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jerome Frese reprimanded Sheneman during a Sept. 12 status hearing, telling him that his conflicting statements had defamed the criminal justice system.
Frese asked Sheneman if he had sexual relations with the minor and then lied to the Tribune about doing so. When Sheneman answered in the affirmative to both questions, Frese gave him three weeks to return to the newspaper and admit he had mislead the reporter.
Frese’s order also asked the newspaper to give a follow-up story the same “prominence” as the original article, which ran above the fold on page A1.
“We hadn’t consulted a lawyer or anything but we . . . don’t feel any particular pressure” about the judge’s request, said Tribune managing editor Tim Harmon. “I can say with certainty that this would have been there whether the judge’s order had been phrased that way or not because [this] was quite an interesting story.”