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Santa Rosa karate teacher cleared of child-sex charges

A 41-year-old Santa Rosa karate instructor was cleared of felony child-sex charges involving a teenage student who witnesses said developed a crush on him.

Jason Bates was accused of kissing and groping the 13-year-old girl in 2007 during classes at the Finley Community Center and at a private martial arts party at his house.

Bates was charged with five counts of committing lewd and lascivious acts on a minor – allegations that could have sent him to prison for nine years.

But jurors listening to the three-week trial found there was no evidence Bates molested the girl, now an 18-year-old college student, who testified as Jane Doe.

They tossed out the felonies and instead convicted Bates of misdemeanor battery for a kiss Bates' lawyers argued was initiated by the girl.

Bates, who works a systems engineer for a defense contractor, was a student and part-time instructor at the Santa Rosa karate class. He and his wife reported the crush to the girl's parents in 2007, said Orchid Vaghti, an attorney who represented Bates.

The mother contacted police about two years later when she read about the girl's fantasies in her diary, Vaghti said.

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