Karate instructor sentenced to 3 years in prison for sexual assa - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Karate instructor sentenced to 3 years in prison for sexual assault

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A karate instructor who groomed a teenage student over several years and molested him at his martial arts studio in Tierrasanta was sentenced Monday to three years in state prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

Juan Melesio Flores, 39, was convicted last November of one count of oral copulation on a minor, but jurors deadlocked on 16 other counts involving the victim and another boy.

Superior Court Judge Polly Shamoon sentenced Flores to the maximum term under the law, saying the defendant exhibited planning and lacked remorse for his crime, which happened in 2013 when the victim was 14 and 15. The judge dismissed the unresolved charges on a motion by the prosecutor.

The victim -- who has Asperger syndrome, a developmental disorder affecting ability to effectively socialize and communicate -- said in a letter to the court that the defendant's actions have had a huge impact on his life.

"I cannot trust adult males," the now-16-year-old victim wrote.

He said he is depressed, feels isolated, and even contemplated suicide after he was molested by Flores.

The teen's mother said her son has lost 20 pounds and at times has had to leave school.

Deputy District Attorney Wendy Patrick said the mother took her son to Flores not only for karate, but to learn social skills.

"The victim looked up to the defendant as more than a karate instructor," the prosecutor said outside court. "The victim saw this defendant as a role model, as a mentor and as a father figure. And it is within the context of that level of trust that the defendant exploited the ... vulnerability that this young victim brought."

After Flores' arrest in December 2013, police confiscated his cell phone and found numerous photos of young boys in various stages of undress and some engaging in sexual acts, Patrick told jurors.

Defense attorney Damian Lowe countered that Flores had taught hundreds of karate students, trying to help them with life issues whenever he could.

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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