Poway Karate Instructor Arrested for Sex with Minor

Held on more than 500 counts, the suspect is in jail on a $25 million bond

 A Poway karate instructor has been arrested for 500 criminal counts of child molestation, including allegedly having sex with a female minor, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department announced Monday.

Last Thursday, sheriff's deputies were seen crashing through the front glass door of United Studios Self Defense Karate Studio at 13331 Poway Road -- the same day the studio's operator and lead instructor Josh Thomas Churchill, 31, was taken into custody.

Investigators say over more than three years, Churchill committed illegal acts against a minor at the studio and other locations. 

Churchill was arrested Thursday near his San Diego home after an investigation revealed he had unlawful sex with a girl, sheriff's officials say, and he remains in jail on a $25 million bond.

He is accused of 200 counts of lewd acts with a victim 14 or 15 years old, 200 counts of oral copulation with a victim under 16 years old, 99 counts of lewd acts with a child by force and one count of sodomy with a victim under 16 years old.

Churchill's arraignment is scheduled for June 10.

According to his Facebook page "Sensei-Josh Churchill," Churchill was previously an instructor at Z-Ultimate Self Defense Studios in Poway, but his last post on April 2 said he was no longer working there. 

"I'm sure there'll be a lot of lies and negative things spread, but if you really want to know, call me," the post read.

Tom Francis, an attorney for Z-Ultimate Self Defense Studios, said the Poway branch closed down when Churchill left to open his own studio in April.

"We're shocked about this as well," said Francis on behalf of his client.

NBC 7 also found a recent civil court complaint filed on June 2 by Churchill. In the court papers, he asked for a protective order against an ex-employee of Z-Ultimate and her father, alleging that the they attacked him in May after she was fired.

The ex-employee responded with a restraining order application of her own. Both sides were scheduled to hash out the case in court on June 17. 

Classes at the United Studios Self Defense Karate Studio were canceled Monday as word spread about Churchill's arrest. 

Michelle, a mother of one of Churchill's students, said she is in disbelief after hearing the accusations against her daughter's instructor. 

"It's shock. It's scary. It's a parent's worst nightmare. You hope it never, ever happens to your child," Michelle said. 

Churchill has declined interview requests from NBC 7. 

Cell phone footage of deputies beating down the door at Poway's United Studios of Self Defense surfaced Monday.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the sheriff's child abuse unit at 858-565-5200.

Check back for details on this developing story.

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