Metro-East martial arts instructor charged with sexual assault out on bail

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by Cory Stark / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 10:36 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 21 at 8:32 AM

(KMOV) -- On Tuesday, a martial arts instructor accused of sexually assaulting a student bonded out of jail, and many people believe they were tricked into paying his bail.

Last month Tony Harris, 32, owner of Invicta Academy in O’Fallon, Il. was arrested and charged with three counts of sexual assault for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a female student.

Last week, he had a colleague send out an email to families of the Academy demanding parents pay $500 per student to buy out of their contracts with the academy. Some parents paid the money.

“Because of the legal stuff I can’t take off work and go to court. It will just be easier in the long run,” said Traci Bricker who paid $1000 to end her and her daughters contract.

Many parents said the “scare” tactic may have worked because Tuesday afternoon Harris posted 10 percent of his $130,000 bond.

“I’d be interested to know where that money came from,” said Matt Smallheer, whose son attended Invicta Academy.

“They wanted everybody to pay by the 14th, then today, Tuesday, he is being released,” said Jenna Beauchamp, an upset Invicta parent. “There is a lot to say about that.”

Tuesday, News 4 went to Harris’ home to get answers, but no one answered the door. Many parents said they are speaking with an attorney to file a lawsuit against Harris.

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