New Information Released in Case of Karate Instructor

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBCSanDiego

    A La Mesa karate instructor facing molestation charges wrote a suicide note detailing what he might do to himself if the allegations surfaced, prosecutors told a judge Monday.

    Eric Protas,38, is in custody, accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy. Judge Charles Ervin reduced bail from $1 million to $800,000 during a bail review hearing Monday that revealed new details in the case.

    While arguing to keep the bail as originally set, Deputy District Attorney John Philpott discussed a phone call between the defendant during which the defendant made veiled references to harming himself. The details of the call will be discussed at a later hearing, prosecutors said.

    Philpott also mentioned a suicide note found by investigators inside Protas' home believed to have been written a week or more before it was discovered.

    Defense attorney Albert Arena offered dozens of letters of support while arguing his client poses no flight risk or danger to the community.

    As for the phone call, Arena said his client made no admissions on what he described as a controlled call with
    the alleged victim. The conversation between the two was "open to interpretation" the defense said.

    La Mesa Police say Protas sexually abused the now-14-year old boy over a one-year period. The victim in the case was a student at Protas’ karate studio, the Allied Gardens School of Martial Arts on Waring Road.

    Protas' brother Ben believes the allegations are "pure retaliation" from a former student who was kicked out of his brother's school.

    Outside court Monday, Ben Protas told the media, "This is all baseless, and in the end, the truth will come out, and it
    will be that Eric Protas is innocent."

    Supporters have created a Facebook page "Head Instructor Eric Protas is Innocent" and are soliciting donations for his defense fund. A photo posted to the page showed the crowd outside the courtroom Monday and asked that supporters tag themselves.

    Eric Protas pleaded not guilty to four charges including oral copulation and sodomy with a minor.  A preliminary hearing is scheduled for October 5.

    If you have any information on this case, please call the Detective Jason Sieckman at (619) 667-1439.