KINGSLAND, Ga. -- The Georgia Bureau of Investigations has opened two separate investigations into the owner of Pak's Karate Academy and one of its former instructors for child molestation.
For the past 25 years, the karate center off of U.S Highway 17 in Kingsland has been a staple in the community. The center runs one of the most popular after school programs in the area.
Even Mayor Kenneth Smith remembers when his own son took lessons there.
"As a toddler he just enjoyed it you know, the action," Smith said.
When allegations of child molestation surfaced, it caught everyone off guard.
"It was a shocking allegation," Smith said.
According to the Camden County Sheriff's Office, it all started in late August but about two weeks ago the first victim came forward. Her allegations led to the arrest of 59-year-old Thomas Ary who is now facing one count of child molestation.
According to the spokesperson for the Camden County Sheriff's Office, Capt. William Terrell, the GBI has also opened another investigation.
"They opened an investigation into Craig Peeples the owner of Pak's Karate he subsequently sent out a letter to the parents of the students at the [center] saying he's stepping aside and his brother is taking over," Terrell said.
Bryan Peeples, who now runs the center, sent Action News this statement:
"We are deeply saddened by the arrest of Thomas Ary. Our students being in a safe and healthy environment is our utmost priority. We are updating our staff policies and procedures to offer students and parents the best peace of mind possible. We have, and will continue to give, the GBI our full cooperation."
According to Peeples, Ary was a student prior to becoming an instructor as well as all other instructors and because of that they did not run background checks. He said from now on they'll run background checks. However, the sheriff's office said Ary had no previous record.
Investigators fear there could be more victims out there. If you know anyone who has been victimized you're asked to call the Camden County Sheriff's office at 912-729-1442 or if you wish to remain anonymous call 912-510-5163.