Maryland

Former martial arts instructor pleads guilty to sexual abuse of a minor

SNOW HILL, Md. - A former martial arts instructor pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a minor Tuesday. Zachariah Bennett entered the plea as a part of a deal in Worcester County. He was facing a total of five charges in Worcester County, but as part of the deal the State did not move forward with the other charges at this time.

Bennett, a former instructor at Mitchell's Martial Arts in Salisbury, engaged in sexual acts with a then 13-year-old student. The incident took place inside a van during a field trip to Jolly Roger in Ocean City in August of 2016.

Tuesday the State recommended 15 years for the crime with all but 10 served, meaning he would only spend five years behind bars. He would also have to register as a tier-3 sex offender. Sentencing has been delayed until a pre-sentencing investigation and mental health evaluation can take place.

Bennett is also facing similar charges in Wicomico County. Bennett will answer 29 charges Wednesday, involving alleged sexual acts with minors inside the martial arts facility.

Also accused in Wicomico County, Leah Wright, another former Mitchell's employee. She is accused of standing lookout during some of the alleged acts and participating in others. Wright's trial is scheduled for this May.


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