Richard Ditmars, Minot, sentenced to probation for child pornography offenses
Richard Owen Ditmars, 47, Minot, was sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison, all suspended but the 30 days he already served in the Ward County Jail, and two years of supervised probation for Class C felony child pornography. He was sentenced to 10 years, all suspended, and three years of supervised probation, consecutive to the probation sentence on the first charge, for Class B felony promotion of a sexual performance by a minor child. Nine other Class C felony possession of child pornography charges against Ditmars were dismissed under the terms of the plea deal.
Judge Doug Mattson ordered Ditmars to pay a $10,000 fine on the B felony charge and $775 in court costs and a $5,000 fine on the C felony charge. He also ordered Ditmars to register as a sex offender.
Ditmars retired from the U.S. Air Force after 21 years. He told the judge that he had served in the Security Forces. Following his retirement from the Air Force, he obtained his teaching license and had been an elementary teacher for the Minot Public Schools. According to his profile on LinkedIn, Ditmars had been teaching in the STARBASE program, which taught fifth-graders across the Minot Public School District about science, technology, mathematics and engineering, at Minot Air Force Base. After he was arrested on the child pornography charges in March 2021, Ditmars lost his job with the school district and Mattson said Thursday he will never be permitted to teach at the elementary or high school levels again. There was no indication that Ditmars committed any hands-on offenses, according to statements made at the sentencing hearing.
Ward County Assistant State’s Attorney Tiffany Sorgen said Thursday she agreed to the relatively light sentence, which she said has been uniquely tailored to Ditmars, because Ditmars took responsibility for his actions immediately and expressed appropriate remorse. Defense attorney Andrew Schultz negotiated with the prosecution and submitted evidence that Ditmars has attained sobriety, participated in mental health counseling and has taken other positive steps. Ditmars also did not have a prior criminal record and scored low on a test that measured his risk of reoffending. Sorgen said Ditmars is an “outlier” and she does not plan to offer a similar plea deal to another defendant she is prosecuting on the same charges because their histories are different.
Ditmars told Judge Mattson on Thursday that he had been deeply depressed and his life had spiraled out of control after the deaths of his parents and after the end of his previous marriage and that led to his crimes. He said he has strong support from his present wife and people at his church and he wants to live an honorable life.