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Former taekwondo instructor recorded children changing, some victims unidentified, affidavit says

Five of the children seen in the videos taken inside changing rooms in Castle Rock and Aurora rec centers remain unidentified.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — A former taekwondo instructor who was arrested last week on 35 felony charges related to sexual exploitation of a child recorded numerous children as they changed at multiple locations, an arrest affidavit says.

The known incidents occurred from the beginning of 2019 to early 2021, when Erik Chen ran camps as an instructor at Han Lee’s Taekwondo Academy, Castle Rock Police(CRPD) said.

Chen faces the following charges:

  • 9 counts of sexual exploitation of a child
  • 9 counts of enticement of a child
  • 9 counts of sexual contact-coerced child
  • 8 counts of sexual exploitation of a child-video

Anyone with information regarding these incidents can contact the CRPD tip line at (720) 733-3517 or CrimeTips@CRgov.com.

RELATED: Former taekwondo instructor faces child sexual exploitation charges

Investigators were first made aware of accusations against Chen on Feb. 21 of last year when a parent contacted Aurora Police (APD). He reported that his daughters told him they were changing at a recreation center when they found Chen's phone recording them when they were naked, the affidavit says.

They identified Chen as the taekwondo day camp instructor. APD investigators later determined the incident happened at the Lone Tree Recreation Center.

At the time, Chen ran Han Lee's Taekwondo Academy in Aurora. There is a second location in Castle Rock.

The victims reported that they were swimming and when it was time to change back into their street clothes, Chen told them they could use the unisex changing room he had just exited because all the other rooms were full.

Chen had left his backpack in the room, according to the victims, and they heard a notification from his phone which was in an outside mesh pocket of the bag.

One of the girls picked up the phone and noticed it was recording, the affidavit says. She stopped the recording and noticed there were three videos, each about five minutes long. 

The girl did not watch the videos but saw thumbnails, one of which showed her in her swimsuit, according to the document.

After they left the room, Chen went back in and retrieved his bag, the affidavit says. One of the victims asked Chen if she could use his phone to call her parents, but Chen refused to let her, according to the document.

On June 2, 2021, a therapist reported to CRPD that a patient had disclosed that Chen had recorded her in a family restroom at the Castle Rock Rec Center some time in 2020.

The victim reported that in May 2021, a boy told her that he didn't like Chen because his girlfriend had found Chen's phone recording her in a changing room. When the victim heard the story, she recalled that the same thing had happened to her during the summer of 2020.

She recalled that Chen's bag was in the changing room and recalled that his phone was hanging out out of a pocket, the affidavit says. She said she felt uncomfortable with the phone pointed in her general direction so went to turn it around and noticed it was recording.

The girl said she had known Chen for a long time and "trusts" Chen and let the incident go and "sort of forgot" about the incident until the recent conversation with the boy.

Based on a suspected pattern of behavior, investigators applied for a warrant and in August 2021 it was executed at Chen's home. It covered his electronic devices.

On those devices about 100,000 files that would be considered child sexual abuse material (CSAM) were found. About 90% of the files show young girls and most were downloaded material, the affidavit says. Several videos showing young children engaging in sex acts were located, according to the document.

RELATED: Judge sentences man to 122 years for 'egregious' child abuse

Eight videos appeared to be produced by Chen and showed children changing at recreation centers, the affidavit says. Three of the videos were taken at the Central Recreation Center in Aurora. Four were taken within a changing room at the Castle Rock Recreation Center. One incident was at the Del Mar Pool in Aurora.

Police could not locate a video corresponding to the incident reported at the Lone Tree Rec Center in February 2021, but said they have "probable cause" to believe the incident occurred. 

There are eight known victims, however five of the victims who appear in the videos have not been identified.

Of the victims, four are young girls and one is a boy.

Shortly after the search warrant was executed at Chen's home, investigator's learned he was hired by Lifetime Fitness in Centennial to run their Kids Camp. On April 4 of this year, the affidavit says, Chen was arrested by deputies with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's at the center for striking a child in the face multiple times.

He pleaded guilty June 27 and was sentenced to 24 months of supervised probation.

Have a news tip or a story idea? Email janet.oravetz@9news.com

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