Martial arts teacher’s relationship with victim began when she was 14, according to court documents | UPDATED

Robert James Morrison on Friday was officially charged with one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and three counts of rape of a child in the third degree.

Robert Morrison poses for a photo earlier this year at his martial arts studio in Renton.

UPDATE: Robert James Morrison on Friday was officially charged with one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and three counts of rape of a child in the third degree.

Bail was set at $300,000 and court documents labeled him as a “severe danger to the community and to other children.”

Additional conditions requested by prosecutors include sexual protection orders for all victims and a no contact order with all minors.

According to court documents, Morrison admitted to police that he sent photos of himself to “a number of his students.” One of those victims also described multiple occasions of inappropriate sexual contact.

“The defendant not only sent photographs of himself, he also groomed another victim from the time she was [14] with photos, text messages and ultimately sexual contact,” according to the documents.

New information included with the probable cause documents on Friday indicate when detectives asked Morrison about the photos, he admitted to sending Snapchat messages and initially told police he was wearing shorts and he was only naked from the waist up.

However, “upon further questioning Morrison admitted there might have been one picture where he was not wearing any shorts but the sink would have blocked his penis from showing.”

Morrison’s arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 8 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center.

 

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story stated that “According to court documents, Morrison admitted to police he sent naked photos of himself…” Though this is technically correct, it made an implication we did not intend.

To be clear, the prosecuting attorney’s case summary states “The defendant took naked photos of himself and sent them to a number of his students. The defendant admitted to police that he did send the photos. It is unclear how many students received those photographs.”

Later in probable cause documents from the King County Sheriff’s Office, the detective states “I explained that I was pursuing a search warrant from Snapchat for the messages and asked if I would find any in which he was nude with just a caption covering his penis. He then stated there might be one in which he was not wearing shorts but that he took all the pictures in his bathroom and the sink would have blocked his genitals regardless. He denied any sexual intent.”

 

ORIGINAL POST:

The owner of Renton martial arts studio allegedly began a relationship with one of his students that began when she was just 14 years old, according to probable cause documents filed in King County Superior Court.

Robert James Morrison, 42, of Bellevue, owner of Lee’s Martial Arts studio in Downtown Renton, was arrested Wednesday and is expected to be charged today, Friday, with rape of a child in the third degree and four counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

On Thursday Morrison did not appear at his probable cause hearing and remains detained at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. He is innocent until proven guilty.

According to Renton Police Commander David Leibman, the incidents came to light when an acquaintance of the primary victim, identified only by her initials, notified Washington State Child Protective Services that Morrison was engaged in a sexual relationship with a student at his martial arts school.

According to the documents, the victim took martial arts at Morrison’s studio on and off for several years, but when she turned 14, the relationship changed as Morrison allegedly began sending to the victim Snapchats an texts of himself in his underwear, something she “thought was weird and not right.”

The pictures then progressed from Morrison in his underwear to him wearing a towel and eventually himself nude.

The victim said she began sending Morrison photos of herself in her bra and panties and eventually nude photos. She said she could not remember if he asked for the pictures, but she did not think she would have sent them if he didn’t ask.

The victim said she sent the photos because Morrison “noticed her.”

According to the papers, the relationship changed again after an incident at Morrison’s home during which the pair were sitting together on the couch and sending electronic messages back and forth so Morrison’s son, who was nearby, could not hear what they were saying. During that exchange, Morrison allegedly asked the victim if she wanted him to touch her. She responded yes, then no.

Following that incident, the victim said Morrison began sending more pictures and touching her breasts “all the time,” “wherever they were.” The victim also reported seeing Morrison touch the breasts of another girl, also identified only by her initials, and “took it as a joke.” The second victim’s initials re-appear in a second document filed by the King County Sheriff’s Office regarding incidents at Morrison’s Maple Valley studio.

The victim said after she turned 15, Morrison began “touching her on the inside and outside of her clothing ‘a lot,’” including penetrating her.

According to the victim, she first had sex with Morrison in May of 2015 at his home in Bellevue while her mother and Morrison’s wife were both out of town. She also describes a second sexual encounter a few weeks later at his home.

Following the second encounter, the victim left for a vacation, during which she said Morrison sent her multiple naked pictures of himself through Snapchat. After returning from the trip, she again began studying at Morrison’s martial arts studio and she said the two began having sex “a lot” in various locations at the Renton studio and twice at the Maple Valley studio.

The Sheriff’s Office interviewed three additional victims, all females between the ages of 15 and 17, at the Maple Valley studio. All three reported receiving Snapchat messages from Morrison in May and June, including a nude photo of Morrison with a caption partially covering his penis.

One of the Maple Valley victims also described in-person sexual advances/touching by Morrison.

According to the report, all of the Snapchat messages were automatically deleted and a search warrant sent to the company did not recover any messages.

However, one of the Maple Valley victims had a regular text conversation with Morrison in which he “essentially admitted to sending the messages and, after initially berating her, apologized.”

The deputy later spoke with Morrison who admitted sending Snapchat and text messages but denied any sexual intent. He also denied making advances toward the victims.

Lee’s Martial Arts is closed today, Friday, but is scheduled to re-open Saturday, according to a post on the business’s Facebook page.

The page also defends Morrison against what it calls “lies and false accusations.”

“Robert Morrison has been a pillar of the Renton community for more than 20 years, teaching martial arts to all ages, spearheading volunteering efforts and donating funds and time to philanthropic causes and underprivileged communities,” The Facebook post reads. “To think he has committed these crimes he is charged with is beyond ridiculous.”

The post reiterates that Morrison will not be convicted.

“Those of us who know Robert Morrison know that these stories are false. We will not let the media affect the real truth,” it reads. “This will not bring us down and we will fight these false accusations to the end.”

Robert Morrison is expected to be charged Friday afternoon. He is innocent until proven guilty.

 

 

Rape of a child in the third degree.

(1) A person is guilty of rape of a child in the third degree when the person has sexual intercourse with another who is at least fourteen years old but less than sixteen years old and not married to the perpetrator and the perpetrator is at least forty-eight months older than the victim.

(2) Rape of a child in the third degree is a class C felony.

NOTES:

Effective dateSavingsApplication1988 c 145: See notes following RCW 9A.44.010.

RCW 9.68a.090

Communication with minor for immoral purposes—Penalties.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a person who communicates with a minor for immoral purposes, or a person who communicates with someone the person believes to be a minor for immoral purposes, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

(2) A person who communicates with a minor for immoral purposes is guilty of a class C felony punishable according to chapter 9A.20RCW if the person has previously been convicted under this section or of a felony sexual offense under chapter 9.68A, 9A.44, or 9A.64 RCW or of any other felony sexual offense in this or any other state or if the person communicates with a minor or with someone the person believes to be a minor for immoral purposes, including the purchase or sale of commercial sex acts and sex trafficking, through the sending of an electronic communication.

(3) For the purposes of this section, “electronic communication” has the same meaning as defined in RCW 9.61.260.

NOTES:

Effective date2013 c 302: “This act takes effect August 1, 2013.” [ 2013 c 302 § 13.]

IntentEffective date2003 c 53: See notes following RCW 2.48.180.

 

RCW 9A.20.021

Maximum sentences for crimes committed July 1, 1984, and after.

(c) For a class C felony, by confinement in a state correctional institution for five years, or by a fine in an amount fixed by the court of ten thousand dollars, or by both such confinement and fine.

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