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Martial arts instructor pleads guilty to obscenity charge

Martial arts instructor pleads guilty to obscenity charge

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A Bismarck martial arts instructor accused last year of inappropriately touching a student and shooting video of others was sentenced Thursday to two years on probation after pleading guilty to amended charges.

Adler Scheer was in a position of authority with the students he taught, Assistant Burleigh County State's Attorney Karlei Neufeld said.

"They looked up to him and they trusted him. Ultimately what took place in this case is he violated that trust," Neufeld said.

Scheer, 24, pleaded guilty to promoting obscenity to minors. A charge of sexual assault and two counts of surreptitious intrusion were dismissed under the terms of a plea agreement.

Scheer was accused after a student at ATA Martial Arts Studio found a cellphone in a changing room, an investigator testified at Scheer’s preliminary hearing. Scheer consented to a search of the phone, which revealed six deleted files of students, all under age 14, in changing rooms, authorities said.

The mother of one of the students spoke in court Thursday about the impact the incident had on her daughter, saying Scheer's actions ran counter to the values of honesty and integrity that he taught. She and Neufeld both asked South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick to make sex offender registration part of Scheer's sentence.

Romanick suspended all but two days of a 360-day jail sentence and allowed Scheer credit for two days served. Scheer must successfully complete the treatment program he has started, must not have contact with anyone under the age of 18 and can’t own surveillance equipment.

Romanick did not stipulate that Scheer must register as a sex offender. Sentencing guidelines are set by the state’s legislators, and the charge to which Scheer pleaded guilty is not listed as a registration offense, he said.

“If you had been convicted of what you were charged with or pled guilty to it, you’d have to register,” Romanick said.

A probation revocation could send Scheer to prison for more than the year handed down at sentencing, Romanick said. State law allows a judge to impose the maximum sentence under those circumstances.

“Zero to five years again if you come back to see me,” Romanick said. “I hope that doesn’t happen because that means somebody else has probably been victimized.”

Defense attorney Jesse Walstad did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com

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