CHRISTIAN COUNTY, Mo. — A former teacher for Branson’s Cedar Ridge Intermediate School pleaded guilty to sexually exploiting a minor in a plea agreement Monday.

According to court documents, Thomas Louis Schembri III took an explicit photo of a 9-year-old girl during a tutoring session in September 2021. The girl told her father and her father reported the incident to Christian County authorities.

Schembri denied taking the photograph to investigators but did admit that he had photos of a female crotch area on his phone and that the female was of age. He said the photos were from a month ago but did not consent to a search of his phone. His phone was seized as evidence.

Investigators communicated with the father of the girl about what the girl was wearing that day. The description matched the clothes in the photos on the phone.

Schembri’s sentencing was deferred for 2:30 p.m., Sept. 28, so that a judge could first look over a sentencing assessment report to determine suitability for punishment alternatives to imprisonment. Schembri has been ordered to report to probation and parole in the meantime.