Lowcountry martial arts instructor accused of sexually assaulting students receives $300k bond

Local News

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – A martial arts instructor charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor faced a bond court judge, Wednesday afternoon.

James Michael Buchen, 45, of Mount Pleasant, is charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor second degree and criminal sexual conduct with a minor third degree.

Authorities say the incidents took place between June 24, 2013 and July 5, 2013. Both of the victims were 15-years-old at the time and attended martial arts camp through Buchen Martial Arts on Leinbach Drive. Buchen was the owner and chief instructor of the camp and is accused of touching them both inappropriately.

One of the victims made a statement before the judge saying, “I decided to do this today just because I know it’s unfair if anyone else were to go through the same thing I have been through.”

Both of the victims described Buchen as someone they thought they could trust.

One of the victims said, “He was a father figure, I feel like ever since he took advantage of that and robbed me of a good portion of my childhood.”

The judge ordered that Buchen have no contact with victims, their families, or minors without adult supervision. He must also surrender his passport.

The 45-year-old was given a $300,000 surety bond.

Experts at the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center say children are taught to obey authority figures like teachers and coaches, but it’s important to teach them when it’s okay to say no.

Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center Executive Director and CEO, Dr. Carole Swiecicki, says, “Parents need to be clear about body parts, and about boundaries, and touching different parts of the body, and when adults tell children what to do it never applies to their personal boundaries about their body.”

She says it’s important to keep the lines of communication open, so if something does make your child uncomfortable, they come tell you. Swiecicki says when it comes to extra-curricular activities, ask the organization about their safety policies and make unexpected visits.

Swiecicki says, “That can give the program the notion that it’s not private time, this parent is keeping an eye on their child and they might show up at any point and the program should really encourage that.”

If you do suspect any type of abuse, experts say the best thing a parent can do is remain calm and contact the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center at (843) 723- 3600.

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