Karate instructor sentenced for sexual abuse of girls in 1990s

Hillsboro, Oregon (AP) 2-08

A suspect who fled Oregon in 1995 to avoid trial on charges of sexually abusing his karate pupils has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Fulgencio “Fred” Muniz, 53, pleaded guilty to charges of sexual abuse and failure to appear in court.

He was arrested last summer in Fresno, Calif., on suspicion of drunken driving and using his brother’s identity. He was identified through fingerprints.

Muniz had a studio in Tigard and claimed to hold a black belt in karate and to be a special forces and military expert, paramedic, firefighter and former tribal police officer.

“Today we add one more identity to this list: convicted serial pedophile,” said Paul Maloney, Washington County deputy district attorney.

The first of his victims to report the abuse spoke in court during mid February. Now 28, she said she suffered eating disorders and other psychological problems because of the abuse and the fear that Muniz was out there somewhere, waiting to get her.

Appearing in court to read a lengthy statement, she said, “is my way of standing up to him and saying, ‘No, I’m not afraid of you anymore.’ “

Maloney said Muniz touched the girl between her legs and on her breasts under the guise of correcting her posture during private self-defense classes, but she noticed he didn’t do the same in group classes.

When Muniz offered her a job, he told her he needed to examine her breasts for an insurance policy and proceeded to touch her underneath her bra, Maloney said.

The girl finally told her mother, who called police. After the arrest, four more girls reported abuse.

Muniz jumped bail. In a letter to his attorney, he railed against what he called false accusations and told his family to hold a service in his memory. “Life’s torment has to stop,” he wrote.

Muniz said he regretted that he didn’t deal with the charges in 1995. He said he suffered on the run, missing his children’s birthdays and family funerals.