Sex offender arrested after volunteering with children at Ashland martial arts center

Sex offender arrested after volunteering with children at Ashland martial arts center

ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) - Parents contact 12 On Your Side after they say they weren't told a sex offender was working with their children at a fitness center in Ashland.

Justin Dutcher is charged with parole violation and failing to update offender registration requirements. He allegedly never told the center about his troubled past. He is being held at the Henrico Jail.

The World Class Martial Arts Center in Ashland promotes self defense, fitness and fun.

"Kids love it," a parent who didn't want to be identified said.

The company's website advertises helping kids go back to school with confidence.

"My kids have been coming here about three years. Get some energy out. They can learn some structure and enjoy being a kid," the mother added.

Little did anyone know Dutcher, a convicted sex offender, was helping out at the center. According to the state's Sex Offender Registry, the 31-year-old man sexually abused a child in 2011.

"If its easy to find it on the Internet, a simple background check will have caught that," said Samantha Somervill.

At a beauty salon next door, employees are stunned.

"You never know who is beside you," said Gabby Talbott.

A tip sent to 12 says, "the owner has not reached out to parents, and there are parents who were unaware that anything happened."

When NBC 12 got in touch with the owner, he didn't want to be interviewed, but he provided this statement:

Needless to say, we were all shocked. We were not aware of his previous legal status. Mr. Dutcher was not an employee, however he would assist from time to time. Mr. Dutcher's membership has been suspended. I am in the process of personally informing each of our students of the situation.

"A lot of people still are finding it to be quite a sensitive subject," the unidentified parent added.

The sex offender is due back in court in March.

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