Struggling to understand how their son could commit so many horrific crimes, Daniel R. Schmidt’s family begged Waukesha County Circuit Judge Donald Hassin Jr. on Monday to show Schmidt leniency as Hassin sentenced him to prison.
Schmidt, 21, of Waukesha, will spend four years in prison for his conviction on two counts of possessing child pornography and one count of eluding police. Hundreds of pornographic images involving children – including of a toddler – were found on his computer via a search warrant after he fled from the Waukesha Police Department.
“It is horrific – images that stay with one for a very long time,” said Assistant District Attorney Debra Blasius.
With drug use, drug delivery and a high-speed car chase thrown into the mix, “this wasn’t a momentary lapse of judgment or a mistake,” Blasius said.
Schmidt could face additional prison time if he is convicted of a crime that prompted a partial shutdown of a social networking website.
Schmidt is scheduled for a February jury trial in Milwaukee County on charges alleging he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old Muskego boy he met on Skout.com, a mobile flirting website. The case has drawn national media attention and prompted Skout’s CEO to shut down a mobile app to the website and temporarily shut down the under-18 portion of the site.
Schmidt’s family begged Hassin to give him a prison sentence shorter than the six years recommended by Blasius. Schmidt needs many forms of counseling for what his father described were “appalling” actions.
Schmidt said not many people can understand his “awful” actions and that he is sorry – for endangering lives with his car chase, for delivering marijuana in the community and for looking at and sharing child pornography.
“I’ve spent the last three weeks praying every night that God can forgive me for what I have done,” said Schmidt, who was sobbing throughout the court hearing. “During my incarceration, I have learned that my actions were not OK.”
Schmidt’s mother asked the judge to give her son another chance at life. Schmidt faced dozens of years in prison if Hassin gave him the maximum sentence.
“This is just tearing my heart out,” his mother said. “I do think Daniel made bad choices that were wrong. This is not the son I know. … I know he can’t change where he has been in life but he can change where he is going.”
The criminal justice system is designed to protect the community and children from people like Schmidt, said Hassin while delivering the sentence.
“Despite your young age of 21, you are a predator in this community,” Hassin said.
Schmidt’s attorney, Jonathan LaVoy, believes Hassin handed down a “fair” sentence.
“This was a case where Mr. Schmidt clearly involved himself in some very serious stuff, but he comes from a very good family,” LaVoy said. “He has accepted responsibility for his behavior. I think the court sentence was measured and I think that Mr. Schmidt is looking forward to trying to put his life back together.”