NJ karate instructor guilty of raping 9-year-old girl
A former assistant instructor at a Passaic County karate dojo was convicted last week of raping a 9-year-old girl.
A Passaic County jury convicted Luke V. Bakula, 31, of two counts each of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault and third-degree child endangerment.
Bakula, of Haskell, was arrested in 2015 after being accused of raping the girl, a student at Porta’s Karate Dojo Academy in Pompton Lakes, between Nov. 21, 2005, and July 2006. He would have been 18 or 19 at the time.
The assault happened at the dojo and at the girl's home in Bloomingdale, officials said.
He was let go as a student assistant instructor at the dojo in 2015 based on the allegations, prosecutors said.
Months before his arrest, he was hired as a paraprofessional in the Ringwood school district. His professional certification was suspended in 2017 by the State Board of Examiners, the body that licenses teachers, pending the outcome of the trial.
Bakula now faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced June 7 in Superior Court in Paterson.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.