Family of 7-year-old victim sues alleged molester

News-DemocratJuly 31, 2013 

The parents of a 7-year-old boy who was allegedly molested by his karate instructor have filed a lawsuit against the instructor and the karate studio where he worked.

A federal grand jury in March returned a six-count indictment against martial arts instructor Christopher M. Horton, 20, of Highland.

Horton, who worked at the 3 Tigers Martial Arts Studio at 2630 Mascoutah Ave. in Belleville, was charged with five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.

The suit names Horton and his supervisor, Kevin Gaugler, and the studio itself.

Gaugler and representatives of the studio could not be reached for comment. It was unclear if the defendants are represented by attorneys.

Director David Clohessy of the Survival Network of those Abused by Priests said that the victim's family met with the group for counseling despite the fact that this case had no tie to a religious organization. Members of group announced the suit Wednesday afternoon outside 3 Tigers.

"We always have and always will help any victim of sexual violence that approaches us," Clohessy said. "When it was founded 25 years ago, S.N.A.P. was created as a support group."

Clohessy said, despite the fact that the case against Horton is being pursued in criminal court, it is a good idea to file civil cases against alleged abusers.

"Civil action can help not only expose the predators but also the people who shield them," Clohessy said. "Colleagues and supervisors of abusers have a moral and civic duty to not try to minimalize and cover up for predators."

Clohessy added that information investigators might not have otherwise uncovered is sometimes revealed in court during civil cases.

"I encourage victims and their families to pursue any avenue available to them," Clohessy said.

The alleged violations took place between May 2012 and February in Madison and St. Clair counties, according to the federal case prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton.

Horton also was charged in February in a two-count federal criminal complaint for sexual exploitation of a minor as part of a joint investigation and prosecution by the U.S. Attorney General, the St. Clair County State's Attorney and the Madison County State's Attorney.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or 618-239-2626.