A New York City martial arts instructor has been charged with sex abuse and forcible touching in his interactions with four girls in his classes at a Queens studio over the course of nearly a year, prosecutors say.
The 26-year-old instructor at United Tae Kwon Doe in Corona is accused of inappropriately touching four of his students, two 12-year-olds and two 14-year-olds, multiple times between May 2015 through Feb. 26 of this year, the Queens District Attorney's office says.
"As a martial arts instructor the defendant was supposed to train his students to protect themselves from unwanted advances," District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement Monday. "Instead he is accused of taking advantage of his teaching position to touch his students in inappopriate ways."
Lorenzo Ramos of Elmhurst apporached each of the alleged victims individually, hugging them, picking them up or groping them, according to prosecutors. In one case, he allegedly rubbed himself against one of the 12-year-old girls, and in another, allegedly rubbed his hand up and down the side of the body of a 14-year-old girl.
He also allegedly offered money to three of the girls, saying in one instance, "Don't say anything because both of us will be killed."
The girls began speaking to one another and voiced their concerns about Ramos to the owners of the martial arts studio, who fired him, authorities said. When Ramos was fired, one of the victims told her mother, who called police.
Ramos was arraigned Friday on multiple counts of sexual abuse, forcible touching, sexual harassment, child endangerment and harassment. He's being held on $31,000 bail and is next scheduled to appear in court April 1.
His attorney Edward Sapone said in a statement to NBC 4 New York that Ramos has been a karate instructor for seven years and has worked with hundreds of students of all ages.
"His boss trusted him so much that when his when his boss added a location to the karate studio, he took Mr. Ramos with him." said Sapone. "Before this, he's never once been accused of impropriety. He vehemently maintains his innocence."
Parents at the school Monday had no idea of the allegations against Ramos. The school has promised to update parents on the situation.