Judge convicts Essex man of sexually abusing teen-ager

September 28, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County judge convicted the owner of an Essex martial arts school of child abuse and a fourth-degree sex offense yesterday after the defendant admitted to sharing his bed with a 15-year-old boy who considered him "a mentor."

Orlando Yarborough, 55, of the 1300 block of Sugarwood Circle was convicted by Judge Alexander Wright Jr. after a one-day trial in Circuit Court that centered on an overnight stay at Yarborough's home Feb. 3.

The boy testified that Yarborough let him stay overnight and they watched a movie together before Yarborough gave him a massage and improperly touched him.

Several supporters testified for Yarborough, telling Wright they considered Yarborough a mentor.

"He's like a friend and a father figure to me," James Ward, 30, testified.

About three dozen people rallied the day after Yarborough's arrest Feb. 20 in a show of support.

But a number of people stepped forward after the rally to tell police that Yarborough sexually abused them, said Assistant State's Attorney John Cox.

In another case, a jury acquitted Yarborough on Wednesday of sexually abusing a boy three years ago, when the boy was 11.

Yarborough is scheduled to be tried in December and January in four other child-abuse cases.

Yarborough, an auditor for a Washington-based accounting firm, testified that he ran the Body Mechanics Fitness Center on Back River Neck Road several years ago to teach discipline to troubled youths.

"I saw it as a way to teach them how to control their anger and manage stress," Yarborough testified.

He admitted that the youth had stayed at his house -- and that they slept in the same bed -- about five times before Feb. 3.

Yarborough testified that on the night of the incident, the youth asked him for a back rub, they wrestled together and the boy asked him to show him what a martial arts expert would consider the body's "vital points." He denied improperly touching the youth.

But Wright said that he found Yarborough's testimony "rambling, disjointed and unbelievable."

Wright ordered Yarborough, who has remained free on bail since June, held without bail until sentencing Oct. 12.

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