Martial arts teacher sentenced to 4 years

Essex man, 55, convicted of sexually abusing teen

November 01, 2001|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Essex martial arts teacher and community activist Orlando Yarborough was sentenced yesterday to four years in jail for sexually abusing a 15-year-old student.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Alexander Wright Jr. announced the sentence after hearing testimony from two men, now in their 30s, who said Yarborough sexually assaulted them when they were troubled teen-agers studying martial arts. The men said the incidents occurred during sleepovers at Yarborough's home.

Yarborough has not been tried on abuse charges involving those men, but Wright allowed their comments during sentencing.

One man, now 36, wept on the witness stand, saying that five sexual encounters with Yarborough led to sleeplessness, a ruined marriage and problems with alcohol.

He said he came forward this year after he heard about the charges involving the 15-year-old boy.

"I can't look another man in the face. I don't trust too many people," the man said.

The second man, now 37, said he met Yarborough when he was 12 and thought of him as a father figure, often staying in his home.

Once, he said, he awoke to find his teacher performing a sex act on him.

The graphic descriptions from the two men contrasted with the glowing accounts from several students, colleagues and relatives brought to testify by Yarborough's lawyer, David P. Henninger,

They described Yarborough, 55, as a dedicated martial arts teacher who founded the Body Mechanics Fitness Center on Back River Neck Road to help neglected children.

They said they never saw Yarborough treat his students in an inappropriate way and did not believe the allegations of sexual abuse.

Yarborough's 24-year-old daughter, Shana Yarborough, displayed for the judge 15 awards her father received from Gov. Parris N. Glendening, County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the County Council and former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. She described growing up with a house full of "five or six kids" invited for dinner "because they were hungry."

"There are a lot of kids who would have been in jail, who would have died if it wasn't for my father," she said as she broke down crying.

Yarborough, who was convicted of child abuse and a fourth-degree sex offense, appeared quiet and withdrawn during the hearing. Speaking in a weak and shaky voice, he asked the judge for mercy.

The victim in the case, now 16, told the judge that Yarborough "hurt my life a lot." The boy's mother said, "I don't know how [Yarborough] could have inflicted more pain on my family."

Wright and Assistant State's Attorney John Cox commended the teen-ager for reporting the abuse and facing Yarborough in court. News of his case prompted five others to come forward with similar claims of abuse.

"I believe with your mother's help, you can overcome this," Wright told the teen.

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