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Sex-crime investigation stalls after two months

Crime: Law enforcement reports no new developments

Posted: March 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.

An open letter from the martial arts instructor to the patrons of his Saugus martial arts studio

 

An investigation into sex-crime allegations against a Saugus martial arts instructor has stalled after a public appeal for more information on the case yielded no new leads in two months, detectives said Wednesday.

“Nobody else has come forward; the investigation is ongoing,” said Detective Rich Simmons of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. “At this point, there is not enough to proceed. When it’s one person’s word against another, the district attorney won’t proceed.”

Dante Lusica, 64, was detained Jan. 5 at the Tae Kwon Do Center, USA, on Bouquet Canyon Road on suspicion of inappropriately touching an 8-year-old girl who was enrolled at a martial arts studio, according to past reports. Lusica was released from custody days later and no criminal charges were filed.

The allegations against him have seriously harmed his reputation, caused him health problems, humiliated his family and cost him business, Lusica said Wednesday.

“I was accused, I was thoroughly investigated and I was never charged in court,” Lusica said. “Any accusation, no matter how bizarre it is, has to be treated that way.

“I can understand, because there are predators and real monsters out there, but I can’t say the way I was treated was fair, or right, because I felt completely violated.”

In a five-page letter dated Jan. 31, Lusica wrote to parents whose children were enrolled at his studio that he and his family were the victims of a malicious accusation.

A mother, who had since taken her children out of the program, told authorities the alleged crime occurred in 2009, Lusica wrote in the letter.

Simmons said he would not discuss details about the case.

“I have reason to believe this did occur, but I’m not going to get into the dynamics of the case,” Simmons said.

Lusica said Wednesday he doesn’t know why he was accused but thinks it could be because the woman had been struggling financially.

While he was being questioned by investigators, Lusica said, detectives offered to reduce the severity of the criminal charges he was facing if he admitted he had touched the girl accidentally. Lusica, who said he spoke to law enforcement without an attorney, refused.

“(The detectives) said, ‘To make our job easy, so we can all go home, just say you accidentally brushed up against the child’s chest,’” Lusica recalled. “But I can’t admit to something I have not done. I can’t admit to something that never happened.”

Lusica said he has studied Taekwondo his entire life and opened the martial arts studio in 2002.

“(The accusation) is hurting my family in so many ways,” Lusica said. “My grandchildren are getting teased. Kids can be very hurtful in their comments.”

Beside a few speeding tickets, Lusica said, he’s never broken the law.

“The only justice I want is the truth,” Lusica said. “After a thorough investigation, detectives couldn’t find any evidence to substantiate the accusation.”

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