A martial arts instructor from Frederick with an alleged “cult-like” following stands accused of abusing a teenage student over the course of three years.

Charles Calvin Stover, 60, was indicted Oct. 23 by a Frederick County grand jury on nine counts of child abuse to a minor, according to a Frederick County Sheriff’s Office news release issued Friday. The alleged victim, now an adult, divulged years of abuse by Stover between 1998 and 2000, according to charging documents. Frederick Police Department’s investigative division was notified April 29, 2020, after receiving a voicemail from the woman, charging documents show, then FCSO was brought on board.

An arrest warrant was issued Oct. 26. Stover was arrested Oct. 28 and released on his own recognizance, online court records show. His attorney did not immediately return a call for comment Friday afternoon.

The alleged victim, who now resides outside Maryland, told police she and Stover had “hundreds” of sexual encounters. He was an instructor, and she was a pupil at In Ji Yong Taekwondo Academy, charging documents state. The studio, owned and operated by Stover, offered classes in Frederick and Thurmont, the sheriff’s office release states. The studio closed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the release.

When police interviewed students and instructors of the studio, most spoke of a “cult-like” atmosphere and said Stover was treated as a “god,” charging documents state. They told police Stover “preyed” on students with family or trauma issues, charging documents read.

FCSO is asking anyone with additional information or anyone who would like to file a complaint against Stover to contact Sgt. Joseph McCallion at 301-600-1022. FCSO is not aware of other students being abused, spokesman Todd Wivell said Friday, but they wanted to make the public aware of the indictment.

The allegations

The woman who came forward became acquainted with Stover when she was approximately 12 years old, according to charging documents. She developed a love for martial arts and signed up for classes at Stover’s studio, taking up to five classes a week by the time she turned 14, according to the documents. The alleged victim looked to Stover as a “father figure,” and she spoke to him for long periods of time over the phone during night and school hours when she was 14 and 15 years old, police stated. She alleged Stover was “grooming” her.

The phone calls progressed to photography trips, which eventually included Stover taking nude photos of her in various settings around Frederick County, according to charging documents. Stover then lent her movies, some of which were pornographic, she alleged according to the documents.

Sexual contact started when the girl was 16 and Stover, 37, the documents state. The sexual contact continued through age 17, with the alleged victim estimating the abuse occurred several times a week, totaling hundreds of instances, per the documents. The alleged offenses occurred throughout Frederick County, including places where the girl babysat, an apartment complex where classes were held, Stover’s residence, parks in the county and a residence in Thurmont, according to charging documents.

Stover told the girl to keep their relationship secret until she turned 18, and he promised to marry her, though as she grew older, he paid less attention to her, she told police.

The girl told another instructor about her “relationship” with Stover, who did not believe her at first. The other instructor eventually confronted Stover about the allegations around 2001 or 2002, charging documents state. People encouraged the alleged victim not to report Stover, though charging documents didn’t specify who those people were. She said people had “cult-like” attitudes toward Stover’s leadership at the studio.

Stover allegedly told the other instructor during the winter of 2000 to spring of 2001 he was counseling the girl through “emotional trouble,” according to charging documents. Stover told the instructor to keep this a secret, but suggested he should be made aware in case the other instructor saw the girl crying in class, charging documents state.

Stover paid special attention to the girl in class, the instructor told police, ignoring all others. The girl and Stover went outside to argue at times and, on one occasion, the child claimed on a rainy day that Stover told her he was “making it rain because he was so sad to lose her,” charging documents read.

The instructor and Stover argued when the other instructor sought information about the relationship between Stover and the girl, charging documents show. When confronted by the instructor, Stover failed to deny an allegation of having a sexual relationship with the girl, the documents also showed.

Police reviewed 19 emails between Stover and the alleged victim dating back to when she was a college student, between February and May of 2001, after she ended the “relationship” in fall 2000. Some of the statements from Stover included references to intimacy and a desire to be together, according to charging documents.

Stover’s behavior toward the girl did not go unnoticed by other students. One student interviewed by police said she saw Stover touch the girl’s backside with his hand while on a group trip out of state, charging documents read.

The alleged victim’s mother told police she did not have concerns for her child’s well-being at the studio and typically dropped her off, but did not stay for classes, police wrote.

Stover has a pre-trial conference scheduled in Frederick County Circuit Court Jan. 4.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller.

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