After a little more than two days of deliberations, a jury found Frank DeMaria guilty of nine charges that he directed four young girls to touch his genitals at his former martial arts studio in Croton on Hudson.
DeMaria,one of the highest-ranking martial arts experts in the country, has vehemently denied that he ever had any of his students to touch him inappropriately, including the hundreds of children he has taught in the past 50 years. He called the allegations “disgusting.” His family and supporters backed him up, as did two former students who said they never saw him sexually abuse anyone in his classes.
But his reputation was not enough to counter the testimony of the girls, who are now between 9 and 13 years old, nor the testimony of a male student who said he saw DeMaria abuse an 8-year-old girl in December 2010 and January 2011. Another male student backed up the January 2011 allegation.
DeMaria faces up to 7 years in prison when he’s sentenced on May 8, but he also could be sentenced to probation. In either case, he will likely have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
It’s not every day that you get a Buddhist fighting monk to testify at a trial. But when the defendant is Kung Fu grandmaster Frank DeMaria, it makes perfect sense.
Shi Guo Lin brought some action — and a laugh — to the courtroom of Westchester County Judge Barbara Zambelli today when he took the stand as a defense witness. DeMaria, his friend and Kung Fu brother, is facing felony sex abuse charges for allegedly directing four young female students to grope him during class.
Guo Lin, who does not speak fluent English, did some Kung Fu moves for the jury to demonstrate a groin strike that DeMaria claims he was teaching the girls when two adult male students saw him and accused him of abuse. He showed some other kicks and punches in front of the jury box as defensive moves during an attack.
Assistant District Attorney Christine Cervasio asked Guo Lin about the “tiger claw,” a phrase to describe a groin attack he did not understand in English and that the Mandarin interpreter could not translate.
“Could you demonstrate so I could see what it looks like?” he asked the prim, polished prosecutor. The image of Cervasio, or any of the lawyers, doing Kung Fu caused the courtroom to erupt in laughter. The judge, with a smile, said there would be no demonstrations and that DeMaria could tell his lawyer the Mandarin word for the tiger claw move so he could inform his witness.
DeMaria, left, and Guo Lin in happier times. Photo from kungfu.org, the American Center of Chinese Studies website.