Karate teacher pleads not guilty to sexual assault charges

The alleged victim studied under the black belt teacher and got a black belt of her own, but investigators say other things also happened at the karate studio, illegal sexual acts. 31-year-old Josh Churchill, appearing in court, pleaded not guilty to 52 counts of sexual assault – all charges related to allegations of having sex with one of his teenage female karate students for three years.

“If convicted of all charges, the defendant is looking at 21 years in state prison,” said deputy district attorney Lisa Fox.

Last week at Churchill’s United Studios Self Defense Karate Studio in Poway, Sheriff’s investigators broke down the door to get in and get evidence in the case. Churchill’s defense attorney says his client knew about the accusations weeks ago and did not leave town and that may be why the judge reduced bail from $25 million to $1 million. There are also two restraining orders in this case.

“There was an allegation he did these things to the complaining witness and she filed a restraining order against him, and then he filed one against her because she kept sending him texts after the restraining order was in place,” explained Churchill’s attorney Kerry Armstrong.

Churchill also pled not guilty Tuesday to assaulting the father of the teenaged girl just a few weeks ago. The judge ordered Churchill to have no contact with Jane Doe or her father John Doe. According to the defense attorney, the karate instructor is scared to death of being attacked in jail.

“Even though he’s a black belt, it’s a double-edged sword because there are guys in jail who will test the biggest and baddest guy in jail. He doesn’t want to use his karate expertise in jail unless he has to.”

This investigation continues.

“What I would encourage is if there are in fact other victims out there, or people who they believe may be victims, contact the Sheriff’s Department about this case,” concluded Fox.

Facebook provides an interesting angle to this story: Josh Churchill’s wife and teenaged victim appear to be good friends. They are in several pictures together doing fun things, going back several years. Churchill is due back in court July 1st.

Categories: KUSI