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Karate instructor, 81, arrested in sex abuse investigation

An 81-year-old Orem karate instructor has been arrested for investigation of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.
An 81-year-old Orem karate instructor has been arrested for investigation of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.
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OREM — An 81-year-old Orem karate instructor has been arrested and accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.

Kenneth Higa was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of six counts of aggravated forcible sex abuse and two counts of object rape.

Higa works at the Shotokan Karate Program in Orem. The girl had been one of Higa's students for six to seven years, according to a police affidavit filed in 4th District Court. The investigation began when the Division of Child and Family Services notified Orem police of the 14-year-old on June 12.

The girl had missed some classes due to other commitments, so Higa "made arrangements for the child to attend a class alone" on a weekend, the report states. Once there, Higa told the girl he would be holding class in the basement that day, the affidavit states.

"Mr. Higa told her he would like to give her a massage. The child was extremely uncomfortable with the request but because of his position of trust over her she did not protest," according to the report.

This continued for several classes.

"Mr. Higa continued to make excuses to take the child to the basement to practice," the report states.

When interviewed by police, Higa said he gave massages to the girl in the basement and "he gave into temptation," according to the police report.

Because Higa has been in a position of being around children for 30 years, Orem police are concerned about other potential victims who haven't stepped forward.

Higa was arrested on Wednesday.

Higa became known for using karate to motivate young people and deliver LDS teachings. He encouraged young men to earn their Eagle Scout awards and serve missions for The Church of Jesus of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to stories profiling his work by the Deseret News and KSL-TV in 2012.

Anyone with information is asked to call 801-229-7070.