PATERSON — A former teacher and karate instructor has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for raping a 9-year-old girl.

Luke V. Bakula, 31, was convicted by a Passaic County jury earlier this year on two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault and third-degree child endangerment.

He was sentenced Friday to 12 years on the first-degree charge and another six years for the second-degree charge. The sentences will be served back to back. He had been facing up to 40 years in prison.

The Haskell resident was arrested in 2015 after being accused of raping the student at Porta’s Karate Dojo Academy in Pompton Lakes and at the girl's home in Bloomingdale between Nov. 21, 2005, and July 2006.

He lost his job at the dojo in 2015 because of the allegations and the State Board of Examiners in 2017 suspended his elementary school teaching credentials, which he is expected to lose.

Bakula is now barred from public employment in the state. He also must register as a sex offender and will be subject to parole supervision for life.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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