A Broward County karate instructor is behind bars after a 12-year-old student alleged that he kissed her following a class earlier this year.
Police arrested 22-year-old Jonathan Vega on Tuesday and charged him with one count of lewd and lascivious behavior. He was being held on $50,000 bond Wednesday, records showed.
According to Pembroke Pines Police, the incident took place January 3rd at the Premier Martial Arts school located at 17503 Pines Boulevard. The 12-year-old victim told investigators that she had previously been communicating with Vega on social media before that date, where he reportedly told her he wanted to kiss her and have sex when she was older.
Vega told the victim not to save their conversations and to change his name in her phone, police said. Following a class on that date, Vega allegedly followed the victim into a backroom and asked if he could kiss her, at which point she said yes and they kissed, according to police.
Police say Vega talked to the victim that night to discuss the incident. He initially denied the allegations to investigators and saying the victim kissed him, later saying he didn’t ask for permission. He later admitted to DCF officials that he did kiss the victim and asked her to change his contact info not to tell anyone about their relationship, police said.
But a DCF spokesperson said the department does not conduct child protective investigations in Broward County.
Vega also told officers that he had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl when he was 18 years old and that matter was handled between the families. He later admitted that he is "attracted" to children and does not trust himself around them, saying he may want psychological counseling at some point as he feels he may not be able to resist a child in the future, police said.
The owner of the martial arts school said he fired Vega when the victim came forward.
"Discipline and self-control, as a growing child we need to instill these values in our kids and the kids we have here, that's what we're doing," Premier Martial Arts owner Jeff Asesor said.
Vega's mother, Monica Abelo, tried to shine a light on his accomplishments while speaking with NBC 6 Wednesday.
"I'm trying to help my son, this is the first time this has happened to him," Abelo said. "He has a good record, he is a good student, person, citizen, he recently graduated from FIU as a mechanical engineer."