Exclusive video shows conversation that contributed to Marquette Co. deputy’s firing and arrest

Travis Bittelman admitted on camera in livestreamed YouTube video that he thought he was meeting a 14-year-old boy
Exclusive video shows conversation that contributed to Marquette County deputy’s firing, arrest
Exclusive video shows conversation that contributed to Marquette County deputy’s firing, arrest
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 7:39 PM CDT
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WESTFIELD, Wis. (WMTV) - Two self-proclaimed “activists’” YouTube channel’s video of a conversation with a former Marquette County Jail deputy contributed to his firing and subsequent arrest Tuesday for allegedly soliciting sexual activities from an underage individual.

YouTube account “Courtney Elizxbeth”'s video showed former Marquette County Jail Deputy Travis Bittelman.

Courtney Engelke and her video editor Chris posted a live video on their YouTube page that shows them interacting with former Marquette County Jail Deputy Bittelman.

The quotes below are two excerpts from the video:

”You didn’t do anything to a 14 year old boy. You were just asking a lot of inappropriate questions. Would you agree?” Chris can be hear asking in the video. “Probably,” Bittelman responded.

“Maybe it’s more than you should talk to a 14 year old boy about?” Engelke said.

”Do you see how that’s inappropriate?” she asked.

“Agree.” Bittelman said. “Yeah? What lead you to do it?” she asked. “It’s the underwear fetish,” Bittleman said.

“Absolutely inappropriate but not illegal,” Bittelman said.

“It’s not illegal? So do you want to go to the Marquette County Jail and ask their officers there if they think that’s illegal?” Engelke can be hear asking.

“No,” he responded.

“No?” Engelke said. “And why don’t you want to do that if it’s not illegal?”

“Because it’s not morally right,” Bittelman said.

The Marquette County Sheriff Joseph Konrath confirmed that they received a credible tip from someone watching the livestream who named Bittelman and described his truck accurately.

Sheriff Konrath said their department asked Columbia County Sheriff’s Office to lead the investigation.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jason Kocovsky confirmed on the phone with NBC15 that Bittelman is the man wearing the gray sweatshirt shown in Engelke’s video.

Engelke and Chris said they messaged Bittleman on the the mobile dating application Grindr for two weeks. They chatted back and forth while using a fake picture and posing as a 14-year-old boy.

Eventually, they agreed to meet in-person.

”We knew going in his position and that he could be armed,” 28-year-old Chris said. “I had to play the 14-year-old-decoy believe it or not just to get his attention and think that I’m a kid.”

After the encounter, Engelke and Chris took the 30 minute live-streamed video down. They said they notified the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) but did not hear back.

Engelke said on Tuesday night, a detective from the Columbia County Sheriff’s office requested the video and they cooperated. She also went into the station and was interviewed by detectives.

“It is a little worrisome though because he was in law enforcement,” Engelke said. “But Columbia County is taking this very serious and they’re making me feel very good about the situation.”

She said her operation is not one of vigilantism.

”I would look at us as activists,” she said. “We never claim to be or act like law enforcement. We don’t even make citizens arrests and we could. We don’t do that.”

She and Chris believe they make the internet safer by having potential predators talk to them instead of real children. Engelke explained they’ve used social media and web chats to capture 32 other potential predators on camera.

“Especially if we get an arrest it’s like wow we’re doing something really good for Wisconsin,” Engelke said. “You know?”

The Columbia County District Attorney’s Office said they expect Bittelman to make his initial court appearance on Friday.

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