Fox News reported that 71-year-old Harry Craig Conaway, a resident of Hanover, has been arrested and charged with a staggering 28 counts, including second-degree rape, second-degree assault, perverted practice, prurient intent, third- and fourth-degree sex offenses, and sex offenses involving a minor. The arrest follows an intensive investigation conducted by the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland.
According to authorities, the alleged crimes took place within a storage shed that had been converted into a private dojo on Conaway's property in Hanover. As a private karate teacher, Conaway provided lessons to students within the confines of this shed. The Anne Arundel County Police Department released a statement detailing the disturbing nature of the offenses and the location in which they occurred.
"The alleged offenses occurred in and near a storage shed converted into a dojo on the suspect's property in Hanover, where he conducted private karate lessons," the statement revealed. It further explained that the investigation led to the execution of a search and seizure warrant at Conaway's residence, ultimately leading to his arrest.
Law enforcement officials have indicated that the offenses were carried out over a period of several months, raising concerns about the potential extent of the abuse and its impact on the victims involved. The investigation is ongoing, and authorities are urging anyone with additional information or potential victims to come forward and assist in the case.
Survivors of grooming and sexual abuse within karate dojos are often left grappling with a multitude of emotions. To shed light on their legal options and provide guidance, we sit down with experienced sexual abuse attorney, Aaron Blank, Esq., who specializes in advocating for survivors in Maryland. In this interview, Mr. Blank shares insights on pursuing civil cases against those who enable abuse within karate dojos, empowering survivors to seek justice and reclaim their lives.
Darla Medina (DM): In light of the recent shocking allegations against the karate teacher in Hanover, can you shed some light on what survivors of grooming and sexual abuse can do if they want to pursue a civil case against those who enable abuse within karate dojos?
Aaron Blank (AB): Absolutely, Darla. It's crucial for survivors of grooming and sexual abuse to know that they have legal options to seek justice and hold those responsible accountable. In cases involving abuse within karate dojos, civil litigation can be a powerful tool for survivors.
DM: How does civil litigation differ from criminal charges in these types of cases?
AB: While criminal charges focus on punishing the offender and seeking criminal justice, civil litigation centers around seeking financial compensation for the survivor and holding accountable those who enabled or failed to prevent the abuse. It's a way for survivors to regain some control over their lives and obtain a sense of closure.
DM: What are some of the key elements survivors should consider when pursuing a civil case?
AB: Firstly, survivors should consult with an experienced sexual abuse attorney who specializes in these cases. They will provide guidance and support throughout the legal process. It's also important to gather any evidence available, such as medical records, photographs, or witness testimonies, to strengthen the case.
DM: Can survivors file a civil case against not only the abuser but also those who enabled the abuse within the karate dojo?
AB: Absolutely. In cases where there is evidence that individuals or organizations within the karate dojo knew about the abuse or allowed a culture of abuse to persist, survivors can pursue legal action against them as well. This could include the instructors, dojo owners, or even administrative bodies overseeing the dojo.
DM: If someone discovers that their karate teacher is operating without a license or is engaging in misconduct, what actions should they take?
AB: If someone becomes aware that their karate teacher is operating without a license or engaging in misconduct, they should immediately report the matter to the appropriate authorities. This can include local law enforcement, the Maryland State Athletic Commission, or the licensing body overseeing martial arts instruction in their jurisdiction. It's essential to document any evidence or incidents that raise concerns and seek legal guidance to protect their rights and ensure the matter is properly addressed.
DM: Are there any limitations or challenges survivors should be aware of when pursuing civil litigation?
AB: Each case is unique, and there can be various challenges and limitations, including statutes of limitations that determine the timeframe in which a lawsuit can be filed. However, recent legal reforms in Maryland have extended the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse. It's crucial for survivors to consult with an attorney who can assess the specific circumstances and guide them accordingly.
DM: Lastly, what message do you have for survivors who may be hesitant about coming forward or pursuing legal action?
AB: I want survivors to know that they are not alone and that their voices matter. By speaking up and taking legal action, survivors can not only obtain compensation and justice but also contribute to preventing future abuse within karate dojos or other institutions. The legal system is here to support them, and sexual abuse attorneys are dedicated to fighting for their rights.