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Negligence lawsuit filed against Pak's Karate facilities over sexual abuse claims

The lawsuit says that the karate school "failed to implement even the most basic institutional safeguards" to prevent sexual abuse

A new lawsuit has been filed against the owners and instructors at several karate schools in South Georgia and Jacksonville, alleging injuries and damages sustained as a result of sexual abuse at Pak's Karate in Kingsland, Georgia.

Pak’s Karate has been accused of multiple child sex abuse allegations, some dating back decades. 

The new suit, filed last week by the family of a former Pak's Karate student, names multiple defendants associated with the company, including Thomas Ary, a former instructor at Pak's Karate in Kingsland.

Ary is serving a 19-year prison sentence after he was found guilty in 2015 of molesting a young girl during two summer camps at Pak’s Karate. 

Song Ki Pak, “grandmaster” of Pak’s Karate, is also named in the lawsuit but says he doesn’t understand why and wants to consult with his attorney before commenting further.

Also named in the suit is Craig Peeples, former Pak's Karate CEO and instructor. Peeples has been accused of sexual abuse by seven adult men who claim he molested them when they were young karate students of his. Those allegations were investigated and largely substantiated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, but the allegations were deemed too old to prosecute. 

The claims against Peeples are the subject of a separate civil lawsuit, which is ongoing.

The new negligence lawsuit is based on harm allegedly done to Ary's young female victim, whose assault claims formed the basis of his 2015 criminal charges. The suit says that the karate facilities "failed to implement even the most basic institutional safeguards" to protect students, like background checks, training or formal policies for appropriate instructor-student behavior. The suit says this helped create an opportunity for sexual abuse.

The suit also claims that the defendants did not ensure proper safeguards to prevent the abuse that transpired at Pak's Karate. It claims that the environment at Pak's Karate helped to foster the abuse by putting one adult in charge of nearly 45 children with no other adult supervision. 

The suit seeks unspecified damages for the victim of sexual abuse and her parents, citing long-term emotional and physical trauma as one of the outcomes of the incident.

The suit names as defendants Pak's Karate locations in Kingsland's Golden Isles, Fernandina Beach and the academy's principal location on Blanding Boulevard in Jacksonville

An attorney for Pak's Karate location in Fernandina Beach told First Coast News they will try to move their location to Nassau County and will most likely try to dismiss the charges against their location.

First Coast News reached out to Craig Peeples. He did not respond, but he has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the past. In a 2015 interview, he said the plaintiffs are making their claims for financial reasons. "Thirty years of building a business of helping people is just being shredded, torn apart," he said.

The defendants in this suit are still being served, and have 30 days to respond to the allegations. 

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