The parents of a girl who was sexually assaulted by a karate school instructor have filed a civil lawsuit against him and his employer for not taking precautions to protect children at a summer camp.
The parents of the victim are not identified to protect the identity of the victim, who was 8 and 9 years old when she was sexually abused by Thomas Ary, an instructor at Pak’s Karate in Kingsland.
Ary was convicted of three counts of child molestation on Aug. 27, 2015, and sentenced to two concurrent 19-year prison sentences followed by 20 years’ probation.
Those named as defendants in the civil lawsuit filed in Camden County Superior Court on Dec. 4 include Ary, Pak’s Karate, Inc., United Tang Soo Do Federaton LLC doing business as Pak’s Karate Academy of Golden Isles, Kingsland and Pac’s Karate Academy LLC.
Also listed were Bryan Peeples, the chief financial officer for Pak’s and Warren Craig Peeples, who is identified in the lawsuit as Pak’s Karate’s secretary and chief executive officer. Craig Peeples is also a defendant in another sexual abuse lawsuit for allegedly abusing seven men over the period of 11 years several decades ago when they were children.
The suit claims the defendants “knew or should have known” that a sexual predator would be attracted to a job where children were the main focus of a business.
According to the lawsuit, Ary gained the girl’s trust during summer camp, lavishing her with extra attention as he “groomed” her for his planned abuse. One time, he showed her a gun he kept in his vehicle, which was described in the lawsuit as “textbook intimidation and manipulation” of a child victim.
The parents learned by accident their daughter was a sexual abuse victim after a registered sex offender moved across the street. They explained what a sex offender was and asked their daughter if she had ever been touched in a way that was inappropriate.
The mother called authorities after her daughter told her Ary had abused her “the past two years at summer camp.”
The girl continues to suffer from emotional distress and trauma, persistent fear and dread, nightmares, embarrassment and loss of happiness, according to the lawsuit. The parents have also sought therapy, counseling and medical and psychological treatment.
The parents had a “reasonable expectation” their child would not be exposed to sexual assault, according to the lawsuit. Pak’s management was “grossly negligent” in not preventing Ary’s assault and they “should have known” of the risk. The company should have had proper training for employees, better supervision and screening of employees and volunteers, the suit said.
The company should have had policies designed to protect minor children entrusted to their care. The failure to do so demonstrated “an entire want of care of conscious indifference to consequences such that punitive damages are warranted,” according to the lawsuit.
The parents are asking for a jury trial and are seeking general damages, including but not limited to pain and suffering, both past and future. They are also seeking unspecified special damages and punitive damages.
Instead of asking for a specific amount, the parents are seeking “damages and whatever other relief the court deems just and proper,” including but not limited to interest, fees and other costs.”