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Former Survivor contestant arraigned on felony charges

Michael Skupin is shown here with En Gedi after his talk five years ago.

Michael Skupin is shown here with En Gedi after his talk five years ago.

Michael Skupin charged with possession of child pornography, racketeering

Five years ago this week, former Survivor contestant Michael Skupin was a guest speaker at Cedar Springs’ En Gedi Youth Center, where he shared his inspirational story with 120 kids and parents. Many remember him as the man who passed out and fell into the fire on live TV and was medivaced by helicopter to a hospital in Australia.

Earlier this week, Skupin was arraigned on a dozen felony charges. Michigan State Attorney General Schuette charged Skupin, 54, of Oakland County, with six counts of possession of Child Sexually Abusive Materials (a four-year felony), five counts of Larceny by Conversion (a five-year felony), and one count of Racketeering-Conducting a Criminal Enterprise (a 20-year felony) for his role in allegedly running and promoting a Ponzi scheme.

Not only did this man rob people of their hard earned savings with his financial scams but he victimized innocent children every time he looked at a piece of child pornography,” said Schuette. “This man seems to have no concept or caring for right and wrong and will be prosecuted under the full extent of the law for these horrific crimes.”

An investigation began into Skupin after victims from his alleged Ponzi scheme contacted a local news reporter. It is alleged that Michael Skupin recruited investors and friends to take part in his “gifting scheme” called Pay It Forward. Victims allegedly made $10,000 cash investments in the scheme. Their money would then cycle through a chart in which participants were eventually paid out of other new investors’ money. The scheme was discovered when eventually there were no new investors signing and most people in the scheme lost all of their money.

Skupin’s laptop was searched in conjunction with the Ponzi scheme investigation. During the search, investigators discovered images of underage children in sexual situations. The images are alleged to belong to Skupin.

Skupin was arraigned Friday, February 5, 2016 in 52-2 District Court in Clarkston before Magistrate Daniel Schuman. Bond was set at $350,000. If bond is met, Skupin must wear a GPS tether, cannot have any unsupervised visits with children or leave the state. Skupin will next appear in court for a pre-exam conference on Friday, February 19, 2016 at 9 a.m.

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Survivor contestant visits En-Gedi youth center

Mike Skupin, a second-year contestant on the CBS television series Survivor, shared his inspirational story last Thursday with approximately 120 En-Gedi Youth Center students (6th grade through high school) and parents at Red Hawk Elementary.
Many remember him as the man who passed out and fell into the fire on live TV and was medivaced by helicopter to a hospital in Australia.
Those who watch Survivor know that Skupin didn’t win the show’s $1 million prize. Instead, he learned during his time on the show that God had other plans for his life.
Students were fascinated by Skupin’s stories of sleep deprivation, eating inspects, extreme temperatures, snakebites, and the emotional challenges of living away from family and friends.
Skupin told the students what it was like for him to walk five hours with only the clothes on his back to the little stretch of dirt in the Australian outback that he and the other contestants would call home for two months. The temperature was 120 degrees, so as soon as they arrived at their campsite, they jumped into the river—and watched in horror as dozens of fresh water crocodiles came thrashing out of the water. Other dangers they encountered were ten types of poisonous snakes, thousands of bats, Dingo dogs that lunged for an animal or human’s throat, and six- to seven-foot-long lizards that tried to use their razor-sharp claws to climb humans like trees.
Because Survivor is all about winning, Skupin said that he couldn’t become friends with or trust any of the contestants. He felt lonely and started talking to God. He said that in the beginning, he was mostly “whining and strategizing to God,” but it was the start of him forming a solid relationship and friendship with someone he could trust.
While trying to survive the weeks in the outback, Skupin learned that “you have to spend time together in order to form a friendship,” so he included God in his entire day. He also learned that “prayers are not wasted” and felt his relationship with God growing in his heart during the show.
On the 18th day of the show, Skupin passed out and fell hands and face first directly into the fire. According to Skupin’s bio, “Five different burn surgeons told Mike he’d have to have skin graft surgery to repair his hands. After 10 days in the intensive care unit, as Mike was being wheeled to surgery, the chief of surgery removed his bandages and said, ‘I’ve been the Chief of Surgery in the number one burn center in Australia for 35 years and what’s happened to your hands is medically inexplainable.’” Skupin’s hands had been miraculously healed.
“When a doctor with 35 years of experience tells me what has happened to my hands is medically inexplainable, I knew God had healed me for a purpose,” said Skupin.
His goal is to empower kids to make the best choices with whatever is thrown at them. Following his presentation in the cafeteria, Skupin graciously signed autographs, visited with the students, and posed for photographs. “En-Gedi is an amazing gift to this community and a wonderful opportunity to reach out to young people. I can see great potential with this organization,” said Skupin.
Skupin has spoken almost 2,000 times to over 8 million people at live events all over the world. He is co-authoring a book with Steven Covey, Ken Blanchard, and Brian Tracy called “Discovering Your Inner Strength” due to come out this summer.
Originally from Farmington Hills, Michigan, Skupin currently lives in White Lake, Michigan with his wife Karen and their seven children.

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