Man Surprised at Sentence for Recording Kids in Dance School Dressing Room
ADA, Mich. — “I wish I could take it back and I pray that someday you’ll be able to forgive me,” said Richard Schmeling during his sentencing Thursday for placing a camera phone in an Ada Dance Studio dressing room.
In tears, Schmeling, 28, apologized to angry parents and their children who were impacted by his March 2013 crimes.
One of the moms made a statement in court.
“I would like to state that, the intent of Mr. Schmelling was very clear,” she said. “He had the opportunity to place his camera in the dance studio in the waiting room, but he chose to place his camera in the dressing room where he could videotape naked children and I think that needs to be said.”
Schmeling worked on a former construction project at the building three years earlier.
However, in March 2013, he was accused of breaking into the studio, then getting into the maintenance room where he allegedly crawled on top of some barrels in order to place the camera through a hole in the drywall.
“I repeatedly hear terms such as, ‘he was trying to surveill. an unclothed individual’, but the truth of this is, he wanted to videotape naked children,” said the woman.
Schmeling pleaded guilty to conducting surveillance on an unclothed person, capturing an image of a non-clothed person and using a computer to commit a crime.
He apologized to the family in court.
“I have a five-month-old daughter. When I look into her pretty blue eyes, I ask myself, ‘Why would I do this to another person`s child?’ I would be devastated if it was done to her. My answer is, I made a horrible decision that has affected you the rest of your life. I`m sorry for the pain and suffering I caused to your families,” said Schmeling.
Still, after he was sentenced to a minimum of 1.5 years to a maximum of five years for the first two counts combined, he was shocked to learn he was getting more time tacked on for the third count of using a computer to commit a crime.
The judge said, “After serving those two sentences…will then serve 1.5 To 5 years for using a computer to commit a crime.”
He said surprised, “You`ve got to be kidding me.”
Schmeling had previously admitted to having a pornography addiction.
The judge said that he didn’t have a prior felony record.