On September 15, 2023, Douglas County District Judge Patricia Herron sentenced Erik Chen, 32, to 50 years in the Department of Corrections.
In March, Chen pleaded guilty to three counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Child, a class 3 Felony.
In February 2021, the Aurora Police Department was dispatched to Han Lee’s Taekwondo Academy in Aurora where Chen was employed. A father told investigators that his two daughters found Chen’s cell phone recording them while they were changing clothes in the Lone Tree Recreation Center’s changing room. The victims indicated they deleted the videos. An incident report was taken, but there was not enough probable cause or evidence to make an arrest at that time.
Then in June 2021, officers with the Castle Rock Police Department responded to the Castle Rock Recreation Center after a therapist stated one of her clients disclosed that Chen recorded them in the restroom of the recreation center in 2020.
The investigation revealed Chen ran summer camps for Han Lee’s Taekwondo Center, which has locations in Aurora and Lone Tree. On multiple occasions, detectives learned Chen left his backpack in a changing room or restroom with his cell phone recording in a side pocket. One of the victims reported noticing the phone hanging out the side of Chen’s backpack and went to turn it around out of caution and found it was recording.
In August 2021, a search warrant was issued for Chen’s electronic devices and home. Police seized multiple computers, CD’s and DVD’s which contained hundreds of thousands of images of child pornography depicting girls believed to be between the ages of 8 and 12.
“This defendant preyed on innocent, young children who trusted him as a camp leader,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Zoe Laird said. “I hope this sentence provides some sense of closure for his victims and at a minimum, it ensures the defendant won’t be able to victimize and exploit other children in our community while he serves his sentence in prison.”
In addition to the hundreds of thousands of pornographic images of young children, detectives discovered more than a half dozen videos Chen took in local bathrooms or locker rooms where young girls and one boy are seen changing clothes. Chen is also visible on some of the videos setting up the phone to record.
“I’m proud of these victims for having the courage to speak up and tell a trusted adult about what happened,” District Attorney John Kellner said. “By coming forward, these young girls likely saved many others from being victimized by this defendant. Our families should feel safer knowing he will no longer be around our children for a very long time.”
Upon release, Chen will be required to register as a sex offender.
“We commend our detectives for their diligent efforts and appreciate the District Attorney’s Office for its commitment to holding this individual accountable for his crimes,” Castle Rock Police Chief Jack Cauley said. “Our sincere hope is that this helps bring closure to all the victims as they continue their journey forward.”