POLICE: Renton martial arts instructor suspected of raping student, sending others nude pics

POLICE: Renton martial arts instructor suspected of raping student, sending others nude pics

RENTON, Wash. — Robert Morrison has long taught self-defense to children. He's now suspected by police of raping a 15-year-old female student for more than a year.

Morrison owns Lee's Martial Arts in Renton, and a second studio in Maple Valley. 

In addition to child rape, he's also suspected of sending nude pictures of himself to his alleged rape victim and at least three other teenage girls – all martial arts students.

Renton police detectives entered Lee's Martial Arts just after noon on Thursday, looking for evidence in the case they're building against Morrison.

The 42-year old Bellevue man is suspected of raping a female student multiple times – at his martial arts studio and his Bellevue home -- for more than a year, beginning when she was just 15.

A woman who knows Morrison and his alleged victim told KIRO 7, "I just had a weird, gut feeling that something was off."  The woman didn't want to be identified, but said she's very "relieved and happy that he is away from a business that has a bunch of kids, and little girls."

While some Renton police detectives searched Morrison's dojo, others searched his home at 129th Place Southeast in Bellevue. 

Morrison is also suspected of four counts of communicating with minors for immoral purposes. According to court documents, Morrison took nude photos of himself then shared those images using Snapchat – not only with his alleged rape victim, but with three other teenage female martial arts students.   

"The messages consisted of a photo of him nude with a caption partially covering his penis. There was also a text message of 'did you remember to brush your teeth'," according to the King County Sheriff's Office report.

Cmdr. David Leibman of the Renton police confirmed, since this case "does involve some internet-related contact with these children, we would be looking at computers and cellphones and any kind of associated records" for evidence.

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Leibman shared Morrison's photo with KIRO 7 because detectives believe there could be more alleged victims. The woman KIRO 7 interviewed agrees, stating she often saw Morrison flirting with his teenage female students and driving them home from training. 

"Those young girls don't have a voice and now they do," she said, while standing outside Lee's Martial Arts. "He has taken something from them that's going to be hard and challenging down the road for them."
 
A judge determined Aug. 26 there was enough evidence for the case against Robert Morrison to proceed.

Grand Master Tae S. Lee & Seattle-area owners of Lee’s Martial Arts responded to the allegations on Sept. 5:

We stand united in condemning anyone who commits such indefensible crimes. The fact that the charges involve Morrison's students fills us with tremendous sadness, as all of our own schools are devoted to protecting our students and providing a safe place for them to learn.
Lee's Martial Arts is not a franchise. Our individual schools may share the name "Lee's Martial Arts," but we are all independently owned and operated, and have no affiliation with the two schools at which Robert Morrison teached. Master Lee's active involvement with the Renton and Maple Valley schools has been limited to administering belt tests. None of us, including Master Lee, were aware of any improper or illegal acts by Morrison.
Morrison's actions, if found to be true, are an egregious violation of the Taekwondo concept of "do" (Korean for method or path), as well as the values of Master Lee and our own, independent Lee's Martial Arts Academy schools.
Do is the foundation of our philosophy and teaching at Lee's Martial Arts. Understanding do gives students respect for martial arts as well as for other people and teaches them the appropriate times to use their skills in class and for self-defense.
Do is centered around respect ("Treating others with honor and courtesy"), discipline ("Developing self-control"), patience ("Handling difficulties without complaint"), focus ("Directing attention to a single task or goal"), integrity ("Conducting oneself with honor") and indomitable spirit ("Persevering in order to overcome obstacles").
As parents ourselves, our hearts and sympathy go out to the students and families involved in this case. We pray that no other victims will be uncovered in the investigation of Morrison's alleged actions, and will do whatever we can to support the students and parents of the Renton and Maple Valley schools through this horrible time.