Almanac

News - November 13, 2013

Karate teacher pleads no contest to molestation

by Sandy Brundage

A child molestation case that began nearly a year ago ended with Ralph "Eugene" Todd III, 32, of Menlo Park, pleading no contest on Nov. 7 to felony charges of molestation and possessing child pornography.

The former karate instructor was arrested on Dec. 19, 2012, for allegedly fondling a 9-year-old student during a private lesson, police said. He had taught at the Kim's Tae Kwon Do Academy in Woodside Plaza for 12 years.

When police searched his home, they allegedly found child pornography on his computer, according to the San Mateo County district attorney's office, and arrested him again on Feb. 5.

Attorney Ryan McHugh, a former prosecutor representing the defendant, first asked the court to dismiss the charges against his client. When San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach declined to do so, Mr. Todd then pleaded no contest in exchange for a sentence of no more than three years, eight months in state prison.

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 12.

The court granted the defense request that Mr. Todd be released on his own recognizance, subject to certain conditions — that he break no laws; that he cooperate with the probation department as needed; and that he attend all future court proceedings in the case, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Any breach would invalidate the plea bargain and allow the court to impose up to the maximum sentence possible.

These conditions, called "Kemp conditions," are unique to San Mateo County and are named for now retired Judge Margaret Kemp, Mr. Wagstaffe said.

Mr. Todd's attorney was not immediately available for comment.

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