Karate Instructor Facing Assault Charges After Facing Alleged Sexual Assault Charges

James Buchen (Charleston County Detention Center).jpg

Less than 72-hours after he bonded out of jail, a karate instructor found himself back behind bars. James Buchen, 45, is charged with assault and battery. Buchen was released Friday afternoon on a $10,000 surety bond.

Two weeks ago, Buchen was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and issued a $300,000 bond. He bonded out Tuesday night. Those alleged incidents happened back in 2013.

The latest victim is a young woman who was both Buchen's employee and karate student. Friday's bond hearing was packed with supporters on both sides. One of them was a mother of three daughters enrolled in Buchen's karate school.

"They've never sensed anything like this with him," she said. "They've never had any inclination or witnessed any inappropriateness with him."

According to investigators, the victim was assisting a karate class last February at Hibben United Methodist Church when Buchen told her he had a gift for her in his car. When they went to retrieve it, he fondled her and rubbed up against her in a hug embrace.

The victim spoke through tears at Friday's hearing.

"He had everybody fooled. I trusted him, my parents trusted him. Everybody trusted him, but he lied to me and made me feel like he had my best interest in mind," the young woman said. "That's why I'm speaking out for all the young girls who are his next target, the next generation of athletes also for the families and friends who don't know the truth. He's not who everyone thought he was."

The news was shocking for Justin Wachtengorf. He is one of Buchen's former karate instructors, a position he held for eight years. He said Buchen was a tremendous leader, but commends the young women for bravely coming forward.

"It's been very hard especially when I look back and realize I was a part of their lives as this stuff was going on and I didn't have any clue," said Wachtengorf. "I look back and the signs were somewhat there and I didn't know."

The chancellor of Hibben released this statement Friday:

We are shocked and saddened by the recent allegations of misconduct against James Michael Buchen. Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of all children and youth. James Buchen taught karate to the children of the pre-school. The investigation is in the hands of the police at this time.
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