SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A May 2 trial date was set Thursday for a karate instructor accused of repeatedly molesting two of his teenage students at his Tierrasanta martial arts studio.
Juan Melesio Flores, 38, pleaded not guilty to 15 felony charges of oral copulation and committing a lewd act on a child. A readiness conference was set for April 28.
Judge Charles Rogers also relieved Flores' private attorney, Vincent Ross, at the defendant's request and appointed the Public Defender's Office.
Flores faces more than 12 years in state prison if convicted.
One of the alleged victims -- identified in court as Brandon -- testified during a preliminary hearing last month that he was 12 or 13 years old when he met Flores and looked up to him as a friend and mentor.
Brandon said that when he was 16, Flores began groping his genitals over and under his clothes while at the martial arts studio. He testified that he laughed it off at first, but it became a daily occurrence.
The alleged victim said things progressed until Flores performed a sex act on him in November 2012.
The witness said it was not unusual for Flores to massage his students or ask them to give him a massage.
After the first sexual encounter, he said he told Flores that he could get in trouble for what he had done, and the defendant responded, "Oh crap!"
"He knew I was a junior in high school," he testified.
Brandon said he initially told his girlfriend and best friend what happened, and ultimately told his mother.
Another alleged victim, identified as Derek, testified that Flores started molesting him at the studio when he was 14.
The defendant molested him multiple times, including at a studio sleepover last December, according to the alleged victim, who testified that he told his mother what happened the next morning.
San Diego police Detective Samantha Fleming said officers found pictures of naked young men on Flores' phone after it was confiscated.
Another detective testified that the defendant's DNA was found on Derek's genitals.