Teen allegedly assaulted by O'Fallon martial arts instructor had plans to marry him

News-DemocratJune 4, 2014 

BND

A 15-year-old girl allegedly assaulted by her O'Fallon martial arts instructor kept a journal in which she detailed wedding plans with the teacher, according to court records.

The teen's journal came to the attention of O'Fallon police when her parents discovered she was in a relationship with 32-year-old Tony E. Harris Jr., her martial arts teacher.

Harris faces three counts of criminal sexual assault.

O'Fallon Police Detective Kathy Effan detailed the contents of the girl's journal in a complaint for a search warrant filed on April 25 and signed by Associate Judge Patricia Kievlan.

Blake Meinders, Harris' attorney, could not be reached for comment.

Harris owned and operated Invicta Martial Arts Academy at 922 Talon Drive in O'Fallon. In August, Harris employed the victim as an office assistant and began picking the victim and her sibling up from school and taking them to the martial arts studio two days a week, the complaint stated. He began paying the teen $280 a month in November and gave her a key to the studio.

During the Christmas break, the mother told police that the victim and Harris texted each other all day. The victim told her mother that she was in love with Tony and he felt the same way about her.

Harris bought the victim and her sibling a sterling silver ring in the shape of an infinity symbol with the word "4ever" engraved in the inside. Harris also had a ring with the inside engraved with the word "Always."

The complaint written by Effan detailed the final weeks before Harris' arrest. The complaint stated that on:

* April 8, the victim told her mother her phone was stolen at O'Fallon Township High School. The mother told police that she suspected the teen gave her phone to Harris.

* April 11, the victim told her mother that she was having a relationship with Harris. She told her mother that Harris would be angry at her for disclosing their relationship. Harris told the victim she needed to "protect us."

* April 20, the victim's parents went through her journal and found pages entitled "How To Please Your Man." The journal also contained wedding plans for the victim and Harris. When confronted, the victim confessed the sexual nature of the relationship.

* April 24, the victim's parents went to O'Fallon police. Police searched Tony's business and home. Police seized a computer, camcorder, camera, keys, notes, bedding, photographs from Harris' studio and apartment in Mascoutah.

* April 25, the victim told police that she communicated with Harris on the computer, allowing Harris to view her naked. She told police they had sexual contact with Harris at his apartment and the martial arts studio.

Harris was arrested and charged on April 24.

A grand jury indicted Harris on Friday. No future court dates have been set.

Harris is currently free on bond.

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570.

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570.