A former taekwondo instructor who taught in Aurora and Douglas County has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of the sexual exploitation of a child.
Erik Chen, 32, was charged in July 2022 after children reported him for recording them in restrooms and changing rooms and police found CDs and DVDs with “hundreds of thousands of images of child pornography depicting girls believed to be between the ages of 8 and 12,” according to a news release from the 18th Judicial District.
Chen ran summer camps at Han Lee’s Taekwondo Academy in Aurora and Lone Tree, and victims reported him recording them at recreation centers in Castle Rock and Lone Tree.
Chen pleaded guilty in March to the three charges.
“This defendant preyed on innocent, young children who trusted him as a camp leader,” Zoe Laird, senior deputy district attorney, said in the new release. “I hope this sentence provides some sense of closure for his victims and at a minimum it ensures the defendant won’t be able to victimize and exploit other children in our community while he serves his sentence in prison.”
In February 2021, Aurora police officers were called to Han Lee’s in Aurora, where a father told investigators his daughters found Chen’s phone recording them while they were changing clothes in the Lone Tree Recreation Center.
The victims deleted the videos, according to the release, and there was not enough probable cause or evidence to arrest Chen at the time.
Later that year in June, Castle Rock police were called to the Castle Rock Recreation Center after a therapist reported one of her clients discovered Chen recording them in the recreation center restroom in 2020.
Detectives learned Chen left his backpack in a changing room or restroom multiple times with the cellphone recording in a side pocket.
In addition to the child pornography found on the DVDs and CDs, investigators also found more than half a dozen videos Chen took in local bathrooms and locker rooms where young girls, and one boy, are seen changing clothes.
Chen is also visible on some of the videos setting up the phone to record.
“I’m proud of these victims for having the courage to speak up and tell a trusted adult about what happened,” District Attorney John Kellner said. “By coming forward, these young girls likely saved many others from being victimized by this defendant. Our families should feel safer knowing he will no longer be around our children for a very long time.”
Once released from prison, Chen will be required to register as a sex offender.