Students of Howard "El Padrino" Puig defended the operator of a mixed martial arts gym in Hialeah after he was arrested and charged with sexual battery and sexual molestation. NBC 6's Christina Hernandez reports.
A South Florida mixed martial arts gym operator known for taking in troubled kids off the streets has been arrested for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy, police said.
Howard Scott Puig, 50, was charged Wednesday with three counts of lewd and lascivious battery and three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation, according to Hialeah Police.
Puig has offered youth housing at El Padrino, the gym he runs at 4735 E. 10th Court in Hialeah. He also operates a bail bonds business out of the same building.
Puig, who also goes by "El Padrino" and "The Godfather," denied the allegations late Thursday while speaking at his gym after posting bond.
"I don't have nothing to fear because I didn't do nothing, I'm okay," Puig said. "I will keep going in my life."
The victim, a 15-year-old Puig had taken in, told police Puig made him inhale an unknown substance from a brown bottle on three different occasions, according to an arrest report. The substance prevented him from controlling his body movement before Puig performed oral sex on him, the report said. He also forced the victim to perform other sex acts during these encounters, police said.
The gym, has since been shut down by the Hialeah Building Department for several violations and will no longer be operational, officials said.
Felix Roca, who said he lived at the gym for about four months, said he never saw anything out of the ordinary during his time there.
"Basically it's all a lie," he said. "I was one of the first persons in the gym. The owner of the gym helped me a lot."
Emmanuel Gonzalez, 16, also defended Puig.
"The coach is a great guy," Gonzalez said. "He would never do something like that because we know him and that would never happen."
Others said Puig is known mainly for giving back.
"I've never seen an act of him being that type of person," Hansel Rojo said. "He just helps out the community. That's the Padrino I know."
Hialeah Police are trying to find out if there are any other male victims who have yet to come forward. Anyone with information is urged to call the police department at 305-687-2525.
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