SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A karate instructor betrayed the trust of three teenage students by molesting the boys at his Tierrasanta martial arts studio, a prosecutor told a jury today.
Deputy District Attorney Wendy Patrick alleged 39-year-old Juan Melesio Flores, an accomplished black belt, molested the boys in a "serial monogamous fashion" with massages, genital rubbing and oral copulation.
Flores -- who is charged with sexually assaulting two of the boys -- was a father figure and mentor to the victims, she said.
"They were afraid of the defendant and they also loved him," the prosecutor told the jury in her opening statement.
Patrick said Flores befriended a 16-year-old boy and massaged him with oil, but the teen said he didn't like it and the behavior stopped short of sex.
Flores told the youth that he was gay, according to the prosecutor.
Another alleged victim, Brandon, was groomed in the same way until one day in November 2012, when the defendant "went way too far" and committed a sex act on him, the prosecutor said. Two weeks later, Flores committed another sex act on the same boy, who was so embarrassed that he didn't tell his parents about being molested for months, Patrick said.
Another boy, Derek, was molested at Flores' karate studio when he was 14 and 15, the prosecutor said.
She alleged Flores began touching Derek inappropriately during 2013, culminating with a massage in the defendant's office that went "very bad."
During that "Ninja Night" sleepover at the studio, Flores, who had been drinking, committed a second sex act on Derek, the prosecutor alleged.
After Flores' arrest in December 2013, police confiscated the
defendant's cell phone and found numerous photos of young boys in various stages of undress and some engaging in sexual acts, Patrick told the jury.
Defense attorney Damian Lowe told the panel that Flores had taught hundreds of karate students, trying to help them with life issues whenever he could.
Lowe said one of Flores' former students would testify that he took naps
with the defendant and put his head on the instructor's shoulders, but nothing inappropriate ever happened during their 15 years together.
The defense attorney said that Derek -- who has Asperger syndrome -- made claims and allegations that were not believable.
Lowe said Flores will testify in his own defense.
Flores -- who is out of custody on $350,000 bail -- faces more than 12 years in prison if convicted of multiple counts of oral copulation and committing a lewd act on a child.