Instructor sentenced to life for child porn

A former Wimberley karate instructor was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years Friday after he was convicted of engaging in a sexual relationship with a minor in 2012 and collecting explicit photos of her.

Richard Dale Griffin, 65, was convicted of continuous trafficking of a person, a first degree felony, and 63 counts of possession of child pornography, all third-degree felonies.

According to a press release, Griffin was arrested in July 2014 after the victim told her parents he had engaged in a sexual relationship with her for about 18 month starting in late 2012. At the time the relationship started, the victim was 14 years old, according to the release.

During the trial, which lasted roughly two weeks, witnesses testified Griffin and the child became acquainted while she was a student at Griffin’s karate studio in Wimberley. According to the release, Griffin developed a relationship with the child’s family; he then “began lavishing” attention on the child.

However, after the victim’s family determined to cut off contact with Griffin, he provided her with cell phones to communicate secretly. The victim, who is now 21 years old, described several secret meetings with Griffin, which included sneaking out of her house, meeting him after school or pretending to go to a friend’s house. During those times, Griffin picked the victim up to take her to places where they engaged in inappropriate relations.

After the victim disclosed the relationship to her parents and then authorities, both Hays and Comal county sheriff’s office officials collected evidence that corroborated the victim’s account of events. That included recovering one of the cell phones given to the victim, thousands of dollars in cash Griffin had given to the teen and DNA evidence in his home and travel trailer. Authorities also collected explicit photographs of the victim off of Griffin’s cell phone and computer.

A Hays County jury deliberated for less than three hours before returning a guilty verdict on June 6. Griffin was convicted of continuous trafficking of a person due to his transporting and enticing the victim for the purpose of committing sexual offenses.

On June 7, Hays County Judge Gary Steele, who presided over the case, heard additional evidence during the punishment phase. Part of the additional evidence was Griffin texting another 12-year-old girl in a similar fashion he used to entice the victim.

Prosecutors in the case also presented victim impact evidence detailing how Griffin’s actions affected the victim’s physical and emotional well-being, according to the release.

Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau said he was pleased with the performance of all law enforcement officials in bringing the case to a close. Mau also thanked forensic scientists, child advocacy workers and victims’ assistance personnel who helped the prosecution.

“Most of all, I want to recognize the victim’s courage to come forward and face Mr. Griffin in court. Based on the evidence we have, I have little doubt that she saved Mr. Griffin’s next victim from suffering the same fate,” Mau said in a statement.

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