FORMER GRANBY KARATE INSTRUCTOR EXONERATED OF CHARGES INVOLVING CHILDREN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE!

For more information contact Shelly Sindland,
shelly@shellysindland.com

FORMER GRANBY KARATE  INSTRUCTOR CALLS WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM A MODERN-DAY WITCH HUNT!

INSTRUCTOR CONVICTED OF RISK OF INJURY TO A MINOR EXONERATED OF CHARGES.

By Shelly Sindland

looking toward the future

It all ended in the same room where it all began, courtroom B at Manchester Superior Court.

In the same room where Patrick Lenarz’s trial took place in 2007, today, a judge dismissed his conviction involving a minor and expunged his record.

A nightmare now over but one the 55-year-old Simsbury man will never truly  escape.

“If you’re working with children today as a professional or volunteer, you’re crazy,” said the 55-year-old former Granby karate instructor who lives in Simsbury. “It’s too easy for someone to make an accusation these days and it doesn’t matter if you’re innocent or not, your life is ruined.”

He should know. It happened to him.

In June of 2003, three of his female karate students accused Lenarz of molesting them.

“It started off with one accusation and then others claimed the same.” Lenarz said. “It was a witch-hunt by the parents and the legal system, a mob mentality, and what happened to me, could happen to anyone.”

Except this time, it wasn’t Salem, Massachusetts but Simsbury, Connecticut.

“We had an expert witness who would have clearly stated that the children’s memory had been tainted but the state objected to allowing the expert,” said attorney Kevin C. Ferry who represents Lenarz.

“We’ve had 30 years of Law and Order and SUV saying that kids don’t make this stuff up, but for whatever reason, they sometimes do,” the former Karate instructor said and the jury agreed.

In 2007, Lenarz, a father himself, was acquitted of  the eight serious charges against him but was found guilty on one count of risk of injury to a minor. He served almost 4 years in prison for that charge.

“It cost me a lot of money, a lot of money.” Lenarz said. “We had to refinance our home. I used up all my retirement money. I lost years of my life. I can’t get a full-time job because I have a felony conviction but that doesn’t even begin to deal with the emotional damage.”

Today, the tide finally turned.  A judge exonerated Lenarz of the charge after a long legal battle that played out more like a Hollywood script.

In 2010, The State Supreme Court demanded the karate instructor be immediately released from prison for not getting a fair trial, something that had never before been done. The justices concurred that the state used privileged information from Lenarz’s personal computer seized during a search. That information contained e-mails between Lenarz and his attorney Ferry on how they planned to fight back during the trial.

“The entire trial was fundamentally unfair,” said Ferry. “The prosecution had a playlist of our defense and was always one step ahead. However, let me be very clear, there was nothing incriminating in these e-mails. What was in them was our entire defense strategy. The Connecticut State Supreme Court found that the state used our defense strategy to prepare its witnesses. As a result, my client lost everything, his reputation, four years of his life behind bars and his life savings. Someone has got to pay.”

Lenarz has paid enough.

“It’s never really over,” he said, “but at least now, I can apply for jobs and not have to say I have a felony conviction.”

A long journey

Without the unwavering support from his wife, daughter and son, Lenarz said it would have been a lonely road to here.

“But I’m here.” he said. “Now, maybe I can get my life back for my family and me.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.