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A Camden Co. karate academy being sued for alleged child sexual abuse

A civil lawsuit filed against local karate academy alleging child sexual abuse.

A local karate academy received notice of a civil lawsuit action filed against them in Camden County Superior Court on Tuesday alleging childhood sexual abuse.

The parents filed a complaint on Thomas Ary; Bryan Peeples; Warren Craig Peeples; Song Ki Pak; Pak’s Karate Inc; United Tang Soo Federation; LLC d/b/a Pak’s Karate Academy of Kingsland, Georgia; Pak’s Karate of the Golden Isles, LLC; and Pak’s Karate Academy, LLC.

The complaint is collectively filed on all “Pak’s Entities” for “injuries and damages sustained as a result of childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by Thomas Ary” while their child was under the care of Thomas Ary and the Pak’s organization. Thomas Ary was an employee during the time of the alleged sexual misconduct.

The civil action states that the parents are seeking damages on behalf of their minor child saying that the “[d]efendants knew or should have known that the environment as Pak’s in Kingsland would allow a child sexual predator to abuse victims without fear of being caught. They failed to institute background checks, training, and any formal policies before allowing paid and volunteer employees to interact with minor children, including being along with a child with no adult present.” 

Below is the first page of the complaint –

AllOnGeorgia-Camden reached out three times to Pak’s Karate owners between Tuesday and Wednesday for a statement, but there was no response before publishing from the owners. (If the owners respond, we will publish their statement here.)

This is not the first lawsuit involving Pak’s Karate.

In 2014, the organization and Master Craig Peeples, was served a lawsuit for alleged sexual abuse brought forward by seven former adult male students many years later.

At the time of the lawsuit, Peeples’ attorney stated that it was a conspiracy to destroy Peeples and his business. The District Attorney Jackie Johnson said at that time there was enough evidence to prosecute Peeples due to the state’s seven-year statute of limitation on child molestation cases in place at that time. (The last reported incident occurred in 1996, and the state’s former statute of limitation began when the victim reaches the age of 16.)

That lawsuit initiated the creation of Georgia’s Hidden Predator Law, which was passed by the Georgia General Assembly in 2015.  However, the Hidden Predator Law is not being used to file the civil suit against the karate organization. The current victim is under 18 and the Hidden Predator retroactive window does not apply and current Georgia law is being applied in the civil suit related to child molestation against minors.

A conviction by a Camden County grand jury occurred on August 27, 2015 against Thomas Ary, who is named in the current civil suit, was convicted of three counts of child molestation and sentenced to two 19-year prison sentences, served concurrently, followed by a 20-year probation.

Before Ary’s 2015 conviction, he was charged in 2013 with five counts of child molestation and worked at Pak’s Karate at the time as an instructor. Ary was then brought before the grand jury in 2014 when the jury failed to reach a verdict on the charges. The grand jury at that time acquitted Ary of two counts of sexual molestation of a young female relative.

Ary is serving his sentence at a state prison in Coffee County, GA.

Picture credit – Camden Co. Sheriff’s Office FB Post in 2013 communicating the 5 charges of molestation in 2013 with Thomas Ary’s picture.

The parents’ lawsuit is seeking damages on eleven counts against Ary and Pak’s Karate. Below is a summary of the 11 counts from the civil suit about the following allegations and counts. To read the entire lawsuit, scroll to the bottom.

  • Count 1 – Against Thomas Ary: Battery – There were multiple occasions of “illegal and unwanted sexual touching.”

 

  • Count 2 – Against Thomas Ary: Assualt – Ary attempted to “engage in illegal and unwanted sexual acts” multiple times with enticement of a child who has suffered damages as a result of these acts supported and defined by Georgia law.

 

  • Count 3- Against Thomas Ary: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress- The child victim “will continue to suffer great pain of mind and body, shock, severe emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress.”

 

  • Count 4- Against all defendants except Ary – Battery – The suit says that because Ary was an employee, the parents entrusted the child under the care of the owners and operators of Pak’s Karate. The suit states that the employers of Ary were “grossly negligent” in not preventing the battery against the child by Ary.

 

  • Count 5- Assualt – Against all defendants except Ary – The suit claims that all of the defendants in the Pak’s organization were “grossly negligent” in not preventing an assault on the child and that the all involved over the employment of Ary had general control over Ary’s dealings with their child.

 

  • Count 6 – Intentional infliction of emotional distressAgainst all defendants except Ary – The parents entrusted the karate organization with their child and expected the organization to enact reasonable expectations to not expose their child to sexual abuse.

 

  • Count 7 – Negligence- Against all defendants except for Ary – The suit claims that the owners and operators of the Pak’s organization did not implement appropriate policies that would protect children from sexual abuse by employees and volunteers like Ary. Their “failure to implement policies or procedures” to “protect minor children entrusted in their care from sexual abuse” warrants damages to the plaintiffs.

 

  • Count 8 – Negligent infliction of emotional distress – Against ALL defendants – The suit claims that due to the multiple actions of illegal and unwanted sexual acts, it’s caused great suffering and emotional distress to all involved. The suit claims that the all defendants were negligent in not exercising control over Ary’s actions.

 

  • Count 9- Negligent hiring and negligent retention – Against all defendants except Ary – The suit claims that all in involved in the generating hiring and retention policies were grossly negligent concerning Ary and the organization failed to enact appropriate policies that do not protect children.

 

  • Count 10 – Respondeat Superior – Against all defendants except Ary – The “entities are vicariously liable for the tortious acts of employee Ary” committed during his employment and punitive damages are warranted.

 

  • Count 11- Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress – By the parents to all defendants – The suit states that the organization had a duty to protect and care for their child entrusted in the care of Pak’s Karate. This negligence has caused emotional distress on the parents.

The parents are seeking damages for past and future pain and suffering along with special damages and punitive damages for expenses related to medical treatment caused by the actions of Ary and Pak’s Karate.

The owners of Pak’s have 30 days to respond to the lawsuit.


Below is the lawsuit filed by the parents.  The minor’s initials have been redacted in this document (editorial decision based on the nature of the allegations).

Lawsuit Paks Karate

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns. Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. Jeremy has lived in Camden County for over 17 years.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Kris

    December 8, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Interesting and not to undermine anything that is true but,, I wonder how much of this is or is not true,,, I have seen and witnessed so many false accusations in this county alone it’s disturbing. Something needs to be done to protect the innocent and their futures too (not saying they are or are not innocent )

  2. David H. Grimsley

    June 8, 2019 at 2:02 am

    Just wanted to see if you’d have time and interest to speak on a couple of topics each of us share concerns of.
    Dave

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