The partial owner of a Springfield martial arts academy has been arrested and charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting a 13-year-old enrollee there, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park and Springfield Police Chief John Cook jointly announced Friday.
George Mendoza-Valentino, 27, of Saddle Brook has been charged with second-degree sexual assault, second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child. State Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Donohue set bail at $125,000 and ordered that Mendoza-Valentino surrender his passport and refrain from contacting the alleged victim in any way.
A joint investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit and the Springfield Police Department revealed that Mendoza-Valentino met the victim when she enrolled at the Springfield A.T.A. Martial Arts Academy branch and sexually assaulted her there multiple times during the last month, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor David Hummel, who is prosecuting the case. The investigation also revealed that Mendoza-Valentino sent the victim sexually explicit images and videos and requested that she do the same, Hummel said.
Mendoza-Valentino was arrested without incident at the martial arts academy on Morris Avenue in Springfield shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday by Union County Prosecutor’s Office and Springfield Police Department detectives. As of Friday he remained lodged in Union County Jail.
“This investigation was a collaborative effort between our department and the Prosecutor’s Office, and we greatly appreciate their assistance in apprehending a person who had been entrusted with caring for juveniles in his role as a martial arts instructor,” Chief Cook said. “We are urging anyone else who may have been a victim to come forward.”
Anyone with information about this matter or any related incidents is being urged to contact Union County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Stephen Carro at 908-965-3890 or Springfield Police Detective Danielle Kahora at 973-912-2246.