Trenton karate instructor accused of sexual assault

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News 12 at Six o'clock, July 10, 2007.

Trenton, S.C.---A karate instructor in Edgefield County is accused of inappropriately touching students. 26-year-old Nikki Ray Smith has been arrested and charged with sexual assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct.

According to the "Eye of the Dragon" website, the martial arts school doesn't just teach self-defense, it promotes respect and honor. But some parents say the school has done anything but that. "That isn't at all what these classes are about," said Shawna Raines.

This after allegations the senior instructor, 26-year-old Nikki Ray Smith, had inappropriate contact with his female students. "That just blows my mind," Raines said.

According to the sheriff's office, Smith and his wife Jesselyn operate the martial arts and dance academy off Edgefield Road in Trenton. In the incident report, a child claims Smith grabbed her rear-end a couple weeks ago and looked up her shorts when she was trying to tie her shoes during dance class. Another student says Smith tried to look up her shorts when she was doing sit ups. "This kind of behavior is always a concern," said Cpl. Robbie Harter. Not just for the sheriff's office but also for parents. One mom says she pulled her sons out of the school two months ago after they were complaining they felt uncomfortable at the gym. They didn't give me a reason why they just they're uncomfortable," said Wanda May.

Shawnna Raines says she also pulled her three kids out of the school recently when another student's father told her about seeing the teacher with a sword. "The other boys father caught the instructor standing over both kids with a real sword holding it point down telling them to kick it away," she said.

Now these parents want to know what else may have been going on behind closed doors. "I wanna go to my kids immediately and make sure nothing else happened," she said.

Smith was released on a $15,000 bond but the sheriff's office says more charges could be filed.
News 12 did talk with Jessylyn Smith, the dance instructor and wife of Nikki Smith, who had this to say:

"His friends, family and students are behind him, we know that he's innocent and we'll deal with these charges in court."

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