A 20-year-old martial arts instructor who taught in Belleville faces federal and state felonies accusing him of molesting his students, including video recording sex acts with two boys and raping a 6-year-old boy.
Christopher M. Horton, of 1408 Ash St. in Highland, was arrested and charged Friday with two federal counts of sexual exploitation of a child. Horton is accused of video taping sex acts with two boys between May 1 and Feb. 9. He also faces state charges including two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and seven counts of predatory criminal sexual assault accusing him of raping and molesting a 6-year-old boy between May and October, charges state.
Horton taught at Three Tigers Martial Arts, 2630 Mascoutah Ave. in Belleville, and victimized his students, prosecutors said. Calls to the school were not immediately returned. The martial arts center was closed Friday night and a sign on the door said the business was closed through Monday for the Presidents Day holiday weekend.
U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton said charges resulted from a joint investigation and prosecution by Wigginton's office and both the Madison County and St. Clair County state's attorneys' offices. The crimes were committed in both St. Clair and Madison counties.
"The facts alleged in the criminal complaint are shocking and horrific," Wigginton said. "I will use all of my resources to ensure that these charges are proven beyond a reasonable doubt so that this person is placed where he can never prey upon our children again."
Following a federal detention hearing Friday, Horton was ordered held without bond pending trial, Wigginton said.
Horton raped and forced other sex acts on a 6-year-old boy, according to charges issued by St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly.
"These alleged crimes on our children demand the swift and severe action taken by the U.S. Attorney, my office, and my counterpart in Madison County," Kelly said.
Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons said, "These types of investigations are always heartbreaking and we will do everything we can to ensure that this predator is punished and removed from society and our victims get the justice they deserve."
Trial dates have not been set. If convicted on the federal charges, Horton faces between 15 and 30 years in federal prison.
Highland and Belleville police, the Madison County Sheriff's Department and the FBI's local cyber crimes unit all investigated.
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.