Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / July 14, 2022
(Douglas County, Colo.) An arrest affidavit for a former childcare provider in Castle Rock and Aurora provides details on the investigation conducted by Castle Rock police detectives, Aurora Police and the United States Secret Service.
Erik Chen, 31, was arrested on July 7 in Aurora on 35 felony charges of child sexual exploitation.
Castle Rock Police allege the abuse dates from 2019 through 2021, when Chen instructed summer camps at Han Lee’s Taekwondo Academy, which has locations in Castle Rock and Aurora.
According to the redacted arrest affidavit, on Feb. 12, 2021, officers were dispatched to Han Lee’s Taekwondo Academy in Aurora for a reported sexual offense. A father of two female students reported his children said they found Chen’s phone video recording them while changing clothes in the Lone Tree Recreation Center’s changing room.
The juveniles told a detective they used a unisex changing room Chen had just used and noticed he left his backpack in the room. According to the affidavit, Chen set his phone in a mesh pocket with the camera facing out. One juvenile heard a notification from the phone, retrieved it, and discovered it was recording. She stopped the recording and found three other videos, each several minutes long, and saw herself in a swimsuit in one thumbnail.
The juveniles told detectives Chen immediately returned to the fitting room when they exited and checked his phone. One child asked to use his phone to call her parents, but he refused. She said he previously let her use his phone.
The case was later deactivated due to a lack of evidence. The affidavit specified law enforcement was unable to contact Chen and collect his phone to produce evidence.
On June 2, 2021, Castle Rock police responded to the Castle Rock Recreation Center where a therapist reported one of her patients told her Chen recorded them in the family restroom of the recreation center in 2020.
In a forensic police interview detailed in the arrest affidavit, the female patient said she had been at taekwondo camp a few weeks earlier. She reported talking to a boy of her own age who said he didn’t like Chen because the instructor had recorded the boy’s girlfriend in a changing room. This helped the reporting juvenile remember the same thing happened to her in the summer of 2020.
The female minor said Chen took a group of students, including herself, to the Castle Rock Rec Center to swim. While changing, the juvenile noticed Chen’s bag in the family changing room and his phone “hanging out of the pocket of the backpack,” according to the affidavit. She told detectives she turned the phone around out of caution, and found it was recording.
According to the affidavit, the child told detectives she trusted Chen, and stopped the recording to bring the phone to him. She could not recall his exact words, but thought she remembered him keeping the phone in his pocket thereafter, according to the court document.
The juvenile said she attended Han Lee’s Taekwondo Academy summer camps for about two years, with regular pool visits each Thursdays. She said during each trip she always remembers Chen changing first and leaving his bag in the changing room while the kids changed.
The juvenile told another academy instructor what happened and said she was afraid of her name being associated with the report. The instructor said it would remain private. However, Chen apologized to the juvenile the next day, saying he was “sorry if he made her uncomfortable,” according to the affidavit.
He also apologized for another incident where he was driving to an activity and the juvenile was in the passenger seat. According to the court documents, he told the minor there was something on her shoulder and put his arm around her, but the juvenile reported she “did not see anything on her shoulder.”
Han Lee, academy owner, told the juvenile in June 2021 Chen was fired.
A search warrant was filed for Chen’s electronic devices on Aug. 18, 2021, and subsequently Castle Rock police searched Chen’s residence on Aug. 20. Chen refused to unlock his phone for police, according to the affidavit, and also refused to identify his phone.
Police seized two computer towers, three laptops, a camera, 10 CDs, five DVDs, two small bags containing unknown white powder, a white iPhone, a black iPhone and a tablet.
Detectives found hundreds of thousands of images of child sexual abuse material, mainly depicting girls between the ages of 8-12, and thousands of videos.
Detectives also found eight videos relevant to the investigation. The videos depict bathrooms or locker rooms where young girls and one boy are seen changing. Chen is visible on some videos setting up the phone.
Chen successfully recorded nine incidents of children changing clothes to the point of nudity, according to the arrest affidavit. Ten victims were recorded.
According to a Castle Rock press release, detectives believe there could be more victims. Anyone with information can use the CRPD tip line at 720-733-3517 or CrimeTips@CRgov.com.
The affidavit also details Chen’s criminal history in Colorado. Lifetime Fitness in Centennial hired Chen to run a kids camp. On April 4, 2022, Arapahoe Sheriff’s deputies arrested Chen for repeatedly striking a child in the face. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abuse on June 27 and sentenced to 24 months of supervised probation out of Arapahoe County.