KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - A Kalamazoo County karate instructor is charged with sexually assaulting three male students -- and it's not the first time he has faced similar charges.
Robert Earl Keith was arrested Wednesday at his Kalamazoo Township dojo and was arraigned Thursday on one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of fourth-degree CSC.
All of the charges stem from accusations of sexual touching. In the most serious case, he is accused of touching a boy between the ages of 13 and 16.
"It's alleged that under the guise of martial arts instruction, these sexual assaults took place. So it was presented to the victims as part of the training, part of the curriculum," Kalamazoo Township Police Department Tim Bourgeois said.
The Kalamazoo Township Police Department has been investigating Keith, 61, since July when a victim came forward. Eventually, police contacted three victims who were 15, 16 and 17 at the time of the alleged offenses.
Police say the incidents took place between November of 2009 and January of this year on Keith's property in the 500 block of Nazareth Road near Charles Avenue. They are unsure if the incidents happened in the dojo, in Keith's home, or a combination of the two buildings on the property.
Police are concerned that there may be more victims.
"What we are asking the public is anybody who has information or knowledge about this case to give it to us, because we suspect that there may be more victims out there," Bourgeois said.
In an unusual development, Keith was allowed to be released on a personal recognizance bond instead of the $5,000 cash bond the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office requested. His attorney James Mequio said he has been working with Keith since July and that if his client was going to try to run from the law, he had ample opportunity to do so.
An assistant prosecutor said the office was disappointed with Judge Paul Bridenstein's decision regarding the bond, especially considering Keith's criminal history.
Keith is a registered sex offender with previous criminal sexual conduct convictions out of Florida. He faced numerous charges there in the 1990s.
In 1995, he was charged with 13 counts for alleged sexual abuse from 1992 -- all involving minors. All of those charges were dropped after a 1997 conviction.
He was also charged in 1995 with 20 more counts for alleged incidents in that year -- 19 sexual assault charges and a count of attempted armed kidnapping that was reduced to false imprisonment.
A jury convicted him of at least three of the counts, but it's unclear whether he was convicted of the rest. He was sentenced to up to eight years, 11 months and 3 days in prison, with credit for 590 days served.
And in 1997, a month after his conviction in the second case, he pleaded guilty of six more sexual assault counts. He was sentenced as a "mentally disordered sex offender" to the same amount of prison time as the previous case, and the two sentences would run concurrently.
Police say when he moved to Michigan, he completed his parole here and registered himself as a Tier 3 sex offender as required by law.
There is no legal requirement that would have stopped him from being around young people once he competed his parole.
Records show Keith was also a karate instructor in Florida. It is not known if that had anything to do with his CSC cases there.
The felony second-degree CSC charge Keith faces now is punishably by up to 15 years in prison. The circuit court misdemeanor fourth-degree CSC charges are punishable by up to two years in prison.
He is due back in court Nov. 13.
On Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans will be taking on the Ohio State Buckeyes for the Big Ten College Football title. On Friday, fans began gathering in Indianapolis for the big game.
Two Kalamazoo men are in jail after Kalamazoo officers found them with money stolen from Sunny Mart Friday afternoon.
Two people were taken to the hospital after one vehicle crossed the center line, causing a head-on crash in Ada Township Friday night.