Karate school owner accused of child molestation

KINGSLAND, Ga. -- A Karate school owner is accused of child molestation but, the accused says it is a conspiracy motivated by financial gain.

The owner of Pak's Karate Studio, Craig Peeples, is accused of molestation. According to First Coast News' partner the Florida Times-Union the allegations are by six former students of the Kingsland, Georgia, location.

Peeples operates Pak's Karate schools in Kingsland, Brunswick and Folkston independently of other Pak's schools, said the T-U.

District Attorney Jackie Johnson said in a letter to Mike McDaniel, special agent in charge of the GBI's Kingsland office, that the last reported incident occurred in 1996, passing the statute of limitation.

There is a seven-year statute of limitations on prosecuting child molestation cases under Georgia Law that begins when the victim reaches the age of 16, Johnson wrote in the letter.

Kingsland lawyer Jim Stein represents many of the victims, who are now adults. He told the T-U that the statute of limitations on child molestation cases should be changed so that prosecutions can occur later because most victims come forward as adults.

"Rarely does a victim come forward at an early age. I think the average age is 24," Stein said to the T-U.

Baker says the supposed victims were motivated by money to make false statements against Peeples.

According to the T-U, Peeples' lawyer, Gary Baker of Callahan, said the accusations are false, that some of the accusers have admitted as much and that it is a conspiracy by some witnessed to run Peeples out of business and then to replace his karate schools with businesses of their own.

"We know for a fact that several of them are conspiring to try and run Mr. Peeples and Pak's Karate out of business so they can open up their own karate schools to 'fill the void,'" Baker said to the T-U via email. "There is no shred of evidence other than those false statements."

According to Johnson's letter the investigation said that the six students were molested, one as young as 6 or 7, over periods as long as 10 years.

The owner of Pak's Karate headquarters in Jacksonville told the T-U that Peeples is an independent owner. The Jacksonville businessman, who asked the T-U not to be named to protect his reputation, said one victim's mention of crimes happening in Jacksonville but it doesn't mean anything occurred at the local school, since tournaments are held elsewhere.


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