“Karate case” pedophilia sect trial begins in Las Palmas

Former martial arts pro accused of luring minors into “orgies” when families believed they were training

Fernando Torres Baena and his wife, María José González Peña, two of the four accused in so-called "Karate case." / ÁNGEL MEDINA G (EFE)

One of the largest trials of sexual abuse in Spanish history began in Las Palmas on Thursday. The so-called “karate case” centers around the alleged construction of an organized system of abuse, described by the investigating judge as a “sect,” that spanned 15 years and involved at least the 61 minors identified during the hearing.

Fernando Torres Baena, a former professional fighter who has been described by prosecutors as a “sexual predator,” stands accused of forcing his students into “full-blown sexual orgies” at weekends at his house under the pretense of intensive training sessions.

Of the 61 victims identified, 38 that are considered proven by prosecutors are included in the allegation. Torres Baena and three other defendants, his girlfriend, María José González Peña, Ivonne González Herrera and Juan Luis Benítez Cárdenes, deny the charges. Torres Baena’s lawyer asked that the trial be open to the press and public as his client “has nothing to hide.” Prosecutors are seeking a total jail term of 600 years for Torres Baena and 621 years for his co-defendants.

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