Former Tomahawk bus driver sentenced the three years in prison for child enticement
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
MERRILL – A former Tomahawk bus driver appeared in Lincoln County court on Monday, Aug. 31 and was sentenced to three years in state prison.
James T. Schmit, 54, pleaded no contest to a felony charge of child enticement in February. Felony counts of abduction of a child–detaining and stalking were dismissed but read in at that time.
Schmit was charged with the three felony counts following a June 7, 2017 incident involving a then-15-year-old female student who rode his bus.
Schmit did not immediately drop the girl off at her home on the last day of school, but instead suggested she continue riding the bus so they could visit while he dropped off the other students.
Roughly 40 minutes later, and after passing the girl’s home twice, Schmit drove to his residence and asked the girl if she’d like to see his dog. The girl declined, and Schmit drove her back to her home.
Once at the girl’s residence, Schmit hugged the girl, kissed the side of her forehead and told her that he loved her, according to a criminal complaint filed with the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office on June 16, 2017.
The girl later told a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy that Schmit knew when her mother was home and when she wasn’t, and that she had locked the door when she got home, worried that Schmit would return to the residence as he was aware her mother wasn’t there, according to the complaint.
In news reports following the incident, Lincoln County District Attorney Kurt Zengler said Schmit appeared to be grooming the girl, becoming familiar with her family life and whereabouts.
The girl was not physically harmed in the incident.
Schmit was arrested on June 14, 2017.
He later admitted to performing a sexual act while saying the girl’s name, which was corroborated by audio and video content from the bus company, along with developing sexual desires for other girls during his 26 years as a bus driver, including a girl who had recently graduated from the eighth grade, according to the complaint.
Along with the three-year prison term, Schmit will serve five years of extended supervision and participate in sex offender treatment. He was also ordered to have no contact with the victim or the victim’s family, have no contact with females under the age of 18, and to maintain absolute sobriety.