An instructor at a karate studio in Tierrasanta has been arrested for child molestation.
Juan Melesio Flores, 38, is charged with 15 felony counts, including lewd acts with a child and oral copulation, according to Deputy District Attorney Wendy Patrick.
Flores is co-owner and lead instructor at Z-Ultimate Studio in the 10600 block of Tierrasanta Blvd. He was arrested outside the studio last Thursday.
According to San Diego police, an investigation started last week after one male student came forward. This led investigators to another possible victim. The two boys apparently do not know each other.
Patrick says the alleged abuse took place between 2012 and Dec. 2013 at the studio, or dojo.
“They did things like ‘Ninja Nights,’ where lots of the kids would sleep over and play video games all night at the dojo," Patrick said. "As they spent time together, what happened, this defendant would make advances toward these two victims.”
Patrick says Flores knew the two boys for years and that their relationships escalated from being "good friends, to massages, to oral copulation."
Classes took place as usual on Monday at Z-Ultimate Studio. One longtime student, who calls Flores "a role model," says he's shocked by the allegations.
“I’ve known him since I was 14 years old. I’m 23 years old now. He’s always been a fatherly figure to me," Steven Lundberg said. "I’ve never had any inclination anything like this would have been happening. My whole life, he’s been there for me."
Flores pleaded not guilty to the charges during a court appearance Monday afternoon. Despite his defense attorney's argument that Flores is not a flight risk and very involved in the community, the judge set bond at $350,000.
“Our concern at this point is we have two victims. Worse case scenario, there are additional victims," Police Lt. Chuck Kaye said. "We want to make sure the public is aware of the arrest."
Anyone with additional information is asked to call the police department's Sex Crimes Unit at 619-531-2210.