A Chula Vista jiujitsu instructor entered a not guilty plea on Wednesday, and he was held on $400,000 bail for allegedly sexually abusing a minor.
Gabriel Gonzalez, 39, is accused of committing a lewd act on a child under the age of 14 and a misdemeanor count of willful cruelty to a child, according to National City police and the District Attorney’s office.
A judge ordered NBC 7 not to show the defendant's face when he appeared in court for arraignment Wednesday.
Gonzalez was arrested on Saturday by NCPD officers, according to Lt. Alex Hernandez.
Elias Gallegos was Gonzalez's boss at Alliance Eastlake and the Chula Vista Jiu-Jitsu Club, which Gallegos owns.
They had also been close friends for 15 years leading up to last Friday when Gallegos confronted Gonzalez about the accusations.
"He took a big deep breath and he looked at me and said 'Let me explain,'" Gallegos said. "For me that was it. And he admitted he did what he was accused of."
Gallegos went on to say that Gonzalez told him "drugs made him do it."
"He could have been talking about steroids or street drugs," Gallegos added.
NCPD officials say the crimes Gonzalez is accused of took place at his home and not at either gym.
"At no time was Gabe ever alone with a student while working," Gallegos said. "The gyms are structured so that the instructor is on the mat and never is he alone with the students and the parents are around the mat watching."
Gallegos said he held a parent meeting at one of the gyms and let them all know exactly what happened.
"They're all my kids. Every single one that comes through that academy. They're my kid," Gallegos said behind tears. "I've known [Gonzalez] 15 years. The victim is one of my best friend's kids. I'm just numb. I want to wake up from this bad dream, brother."
Gallegos said he told Gonzalez to turn himself in to police after he admitted to the crime.
Gonzalez worked at the Chula Vista Jiu-Jitsu Club for the last six months at Alliance Eastlake before that for two years, according to Gallegos.
The judge ordered Gonzalez to stay away from the victim and her mother as part of a condition of his release from custody.
A readiness hearing was set for September 10 and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for September 12.