Costa Mesa self-defense instructor convicted of molesting 4-year-old female student at his studio

John Patrick Harison was supposed to be teaching his 4-year-old student the art of self-defense. But the little girl couldn’t protect herself against Harison, her molester.

The co-owner of a Costa Mesa self-defense studio, who was an instructor there, was convicted Friday in Newport Beach of molesting the girl at his studio while instructing her in January, authorities said.

Harison, 62, of Anaheim, was sentenced to three years in state prison and ordered to register as a sex offender, according to a news release issued late Friday by the Orange County district attorney’s office. He pleaded guilty to one count of lewd acts on a child — a felony — with a sentencing enhancement for substantial sexual conduct on a child, the release said. It noted that Harison also has a pending child pornography case at the federal level through the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

At the time of his arrest in January, Harison co-owned United Studios of Self Defense, at 2675 Irvine Ave. On Jan. 19, Harison sexually assaulted the girl in a secluded part of his studio while they were alone, and while he was supposed to be giving her a lesson in self-defense, according to the release. The defendant lay down next to his victim and fondled her groin area over her clothing. A week later, the victim told her mother about being molested, and her mom called the police.

At Friday’s sentencing, the girl’s father, in delivering a victim impact statement, said Harison deserved to be sent to prison because he represents a threat to other children, the release said.

“My wife and I thought we were improving our children, giving them self confidence and giving them a skill to protect themselves from harm,” the father was quoted in the release as telling the court. “How wrong we were. Little did we know that we were delivering our daughter to a child molester.”

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