PRISON FOR SEX ABUSE (Former Ronkonkoma karate instructor sentenced to 6 to 18 years after admitting he abused 12 boys at his school and at home)
Newsday/Zachary R. Dowdy
James Bonfiglio, a 37 year old karate instructor who was arrested at his Ronkonkomaapartment in October 2007, is charged with committing a criminal sexual act, a felony, as well asmisdemeanor sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. He is accused of molesting a13 year old student in July. Bonfiglio, owner of Excel Karate Academy, pleaded not guilty andwas held on $30,000 cash bail or $60,000 bond. He was released from jail after postingbond. Bonfiglio is also being investigated for secretly videotaping his students and havingimproper relationships with as many as 10 other boys. The investigation has uncovered hiddencameras and videos shot in his apartment and at the karate school. Additional unspecifiedcharges were likely.
Bonfiglio faces a new indictment on dozens of charges ranging from distributing pornographyto videotaping other boys in sexual situations. The indictment handed up in February 2008,charges him with 41 new counts, some involving sexual photos and videos that police said he made ofhimself and children using hidden cameras in his home and karate school. The most seriouscharge, using a minor in a sexual performance, carries a maximum sentence of 5 to 15 years inprison.
Gerard Patalano, 24, said he was also abused by Bonfiglio. He said he was akindergartner when he met Bonfiglio. He began attending several classes a week and eventuallygot his black belt. Patalano charges that the abuse began then, with stops at the closedkarate school, where Bonfiglio played pornographic videos for his student. Later, Bonfigliobegan molesting Patalano, who was then in the fourth grade, he said. The abuse would last 18months. After finding out, his parents pulled him from the school. But because theywere worried about how an investigation would affect their son, they never filed a policereport. Patalano contributed to the silence by holding back many details of the abuse.
Bonfiglio was thrown back in jail on March 31, 2008, as prosecutors revealed new chargesthat the once-popular teacher abused two more children. He now faces 70 counts of sexualabuse relating to 12 current or former students at his karate school, as a 27-count indictmentsupplemented the existing 43 charges pending against him since February. Bonfiglio pleadednot guilty and was held on bail of $1 million cash. He had been free on $500,000 bond sincepleading not guilty to the original indictment.
Bonfiglio, now 38, received a sentence of 6 to 18 years in prison for the 70 counts ofsex-related charges.