The owner of Universal Martial Arts and Yoga in Parsippany has been charged with sexually abusing a 10-year-old student. Police say that 53-year-old Srinivasa R. Koppisetti sexually assaulted a 10-year-old on four separate occasions. He has been charged with three counts of sexual assault and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.
According to the police, these assaults took place between July 2 and July 12 of this year. Police began investigating the case around July 13 after the victim came forward and reported four incidents of sexual assault at the martial arts school. The victim told investigators that the instructor brought them into a private room on July 2 to practice karate moves before massaging the victim’s chest and inner thighs over the clothing.
In the second alleged incident, Koppisetti again massaged the child’s chest. In the third and fourth incidents, he massaged the child on their upper thigh and forced the child to do the same to him.
On July 16, the child’s father called Koppisetti with police listening in. The instructor confessed to bringing the child into the back room and said that the child asked him for a massage.
Koppisetti voluntarily visited Parsippany police on August 7 and told them that he brought the child into a private “meditation room” but only to work on karate moves and stretching exercises.
Attorney contributor Brian Kent helps survivors of sexual abuse seek answers and support in civil suits. We’ve asked him to share some input into the legal options available to those who have been assaulted by instructors at karate academies and other businesses:
All business owners have a legal duty to make sure their customers are safe from foreseeable dangers. It goes without saying that these business owners and their employees, along with everyone else, should never abuse or assault their customers. Tragically, businesses that involve working with children can sometimes attract sexual predators who exploit their positions of trust in order to commit heinous crimes of sexual abuse.
In cases of sexual abuse committed by martial arts instructors or other types of instructors at similar businesses, it’s important that both the perpetrator and the business (if applicable) are held accountable for the trauma they’ve caused. While the criminal justice system will prosecute the offender, the civil court system can help demand accountability from the business and provide survivors with the support and justice they deserve.
For example, a business could be held liable for hiring an employee without first running a background check that could have uncovered a history of sexual misconduct. Additionally, these businesses can be held directly liable if the owner commits the abuse.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused by a martial arts instructor or anyone else, consider speaking to an experienced sex abuse attorney to learn more about your family’s legal rights.