An Essex martial arts instructor and community activist has been charged with making unwanted sexual advances toward one of his students.
Orlando Howard Yarborough, 55, owner of Body Mechanics Fitness Center, was arrested Friday after a 15-year-old boy told police that Yarborough had improperly touched him during a visit to the man's home. Yarborough was released from the Baltimore County Detention Center the next day after posting $35,000 bail.
Police said he has been charged with child abuse and third-degree sex offense.
Yarborough of the 1300 block of Sugarwood Circle began his martial arts center in 1993. He teaches children and adults self-esteem, discipline and good nutrition through martial arts, weight training and aerobic exercise.
In 1995, Yarborough led a group of Essex youths on a trip to the Shaolin Temple in China, where the art of self-defense was founded. Yarborough received the Unsung Integrity Award from Youth Enrichment Service for his work with troubled youths the same year.
Cpl. Vickie Warehime, a police spokeswoman, said the 15-year-old was staying overnight -- with his mother's permission -- at Yarborough's home when the alleged incident occurred.
According to court documents, Yarborough considers himself a father figure to the boy; the teen-ager had stayed overnight at Yarborough's house several times during the past year, police said.
During the visit, the suspect suggested that he and the boy sleep in the same bed, according to court documents. Once in bed, Yarborough asked the teen-ager if he wanted a back massage, which the boy declined. Yarborough, however, began rubbing the teen's back and then "engaged in unwanted and illegal sexual touching," according to police.
Yarborough did not answer telephone calls yesterday to his home and the fitness center, which is in the 100 block of Back River Neck Road, adjacent to a Police Athletic League center.
But he told investigators the incident involved a discussion of martial arts tactics, according to court documents.
"The suspect is alleging it was a teaching environment for learning about karate," Warehime said. "But police do not consider that part of the home to be the proper teaching environment."
Police said they are investigating whether other incidents have occurred.
"We have a responsibility to check," Warehime said.
Anyone with additional information about this case is asked to call Baltimore County police at 410-853-3650.