Mistrial declared in rape trial of karate teacher

A mistrial has been declared in the case of Adrian Spellen, a karate teacher accused of raping a 9-year-old girl at his karate studio.

DeKalb County Judge Clarence Seeliger declared a mistrial because the jury could not reach a consensus.

Bond for Spellen was set at $50,000. In 2011, Spellen, 29, was released on $100,000 bond and ordered not to have any contact with minors except for family members but Seeliger revoked his bond in March when prosecutors accused him of violating those conditions.

After a trial lasting nearly two weeks and jury deliberations that lasted more than four days, Spellen will soon be a free man, although the two counts of rape and one count of child molestation will remain.

Erik Burton, a spokesman for DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James, said prosecutors plan to try the case again.

During the trial the alleged victim, now age 10, testified Spellen raped her twice while she attended a summer karate camp held at his Powerkick Martial Arts studio in Lithonia.

“Why would [she] make this up? The only answer you’ll be able to come up with is that she is telling the truth,” prosecutor Dalia Racine told jurors.

According to prosecutors, after the incident occurred, Spellen purchased insurance that covered his studio against any alleged child abuse.

“So you chose to spend $500 to protect you in case somebody abused a child at your facility versus protecting the vans that transport the children every day,” Racine asked Spellen on the stand.

“Yes,” Spellen replied. “You’re making it seem as if I just went out and said, ‘Hey let’s buy child molestation insurance,’ that’s not what I did,” Spellen said.

The child’s mother told jurors that after the incident her daughter repeatedly woke up in the middle of the night crying because of nightmares she had.

“One dream I remember in particular her talking to me about…she dreamed that Mr. Spellen was going to take all her tae kwon do belts away because she told,” the mother testified.

Defense attorney Steven Maples told jurors that since there was no forensic evidence linking the alleged victim to Spellen, he should have never been charged. However, Racine stated that since the incident occurred several weeks before the rape test was done, the victim had healed.

According to Spellen’s company website, he has been competing and training in tae kwon do for nearly 20 years. He is a certified instructor, has a black belt, and has coached 38 state and regional champions and five national champions. Spellen is a five-time national champion and won a silver medal at the 2010 South American Games in Medellin, Colombia.

Spellen faces life in prison if he is eventually found guilty of the charges.

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