Martial arts teacher convicted of raping a minor

A martial arts teacher who co-founded Hiruko Wellness on Second Street in Los Altos was convicted of rape July 28 and still faces charges of harassing a minor in a separate incident.

Those two incidents, and a third described in testimony during the trial, occurred prior to when Jorge Tejada relocated his studio to downtown Los Altos. He had worked at a studio in Mountain View before launching Hiruko in 2005, which was located at Loyola Corners and in Palo Alto before moving downtown in 2016.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Lamiero said the two charges filed against Tejada were separated for trial, meaning that sentencing for the rape conviction will proceed while separate negotiations regarding the pending misdemeanor case occur.

The rape conviction stems from a crime committed in 1993. A jury found Tejada guilty of forcibly raping his then-15-year-old cousin. That victim spoke to police after learning that Tejada was under investigation for other suspected assaults on teenage girls.

The first assault to bring Tejada to police attention allegedly occurred at the Hiruko studio in Palo Alto. A young woman who had been studying there since she was approximately 11 years old earned a black belt at the studio and became an instructor by the time she was 17. She described a series of “therapeutic” massages Tejada initiated over a period of months in which he touched her genitals inappropriately and lay on top of her. She testified that she initially tried to ignore the behavior and hoped it would stop. But after Tejada allegedly tried to kiss her, backing off only after a struggle, she approached police.

It was the police’s call for information about the case, seeking other possible victims, that inspired Tejada’s relative and another martial arts student to come forward.

The other student to testify started studying with Tejada in the mid-1990s when he taught at Ernie Reyes West Coast Martial Arts in Mountain View. When she was 15, she had a sexual relationship with Tejada that then ended, Lamiero said. She moved away for college, earned a black belt and on returning to the school began working as an instructor. She testified that Tejada cornered her in a room where she was changing, pushed her against a wall and tried to kiss her. She spoke at the trial, as did the other former student, to corroborate the rape victim’s account with their experiences. A prosecutor must prove a propensity to engage in sexually assaultive offenses when trying a crime that occurred two decades ago.

Lamiero said the District Attorney’s Office was not involved in any active pursuit of further victims but noted that the conviction could prompt other people to come forward.

Tejada is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 29. Sentencing guidelines for a forcible rape conviction range from three to eight years in prison.

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