Jury finds martial arts teacher guilty of one count in sex assau - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Jury finds martial arts teacher guilty of one count in sex assault case

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A jury Monday convicted a karate instructor of one count of oral copulation on a minor but deadlocked on 16 other sexual assault charges involving two boys at his Tierrasanta martial arts studio.

Juan Melesio Flores, 39, was taken into custody after the verdict was read.

Jurors -- who also heard testimony from a third boy -- deliberated almost a week before reaching their decision.

Judge Polly Shamoon scheduled a status hearing for Dec. 8, when prosecutors may announce whether they will retry the unresolved counts. Flores faces three years in prison if sentenced on the one count.

Deputy District Attorney Wendy Patrick told the jury that Flores, an accomplished black belt, molested the boys in a "serial monogamous fashion" with massages, genital rubbing and oral copulation.

The defendant was a father figure and mentor to the teens, Patrick said.

"They were afraid of the defendant and they also loved him," the prosecutor said.

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 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 was molested at Flores' karate studio when he was 14 and 15, the prosecutor alleged.

She alleged Flores began touching 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.

The defense attorney said that Derek -- who has Asperger syndrome -- made claims and allegations that were not believable.

Flores testified that he would massage students to "loosen them up" and some of them would in turn massage his lower back. He denied that anything sexual ever happened between him and the boys.

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