View Full Version : Former UFC fighter and BJJ Instructor Pleads No-Contest to Molestation Charges

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3/09/2007 11:23am,
Jiu jitsu instructor accused of molestation

A Brazilian marital artist who runs a jiu jitsu studio in Half Moon Bay has been accused of drinking beer with four underage boys and sexually molesting one of them.

Joao Pierini, 35, faces eight misdemeanor charges and one felony count, including contributing to the delinquency of a minor, annoying a child under 18, and lewd and lascivious behavior, said Half Moon Bay Police Chief Ike Ortiz. As of Tuesday afternoon he remained in custody at the San Mateo County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Pierini headed the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu School, located at 2830 North Cabrillo Highway, which he opened in 2003.

On Dec. 15, four juvenile boys ran into Pierini at the Starbucks coffee shop at Strawflower Village, according to police reports.

Pierini reportedly saw that the boys were drinking beer and invited them to his studio. While they were drinking, Pierini reportedly gave at least one boy a massage, touching his genitals. The incident was reported to the Half Moon Bay police.

On Jan. 3 police searched Pierini's workplace and car. He was booked into the county jail on Jan. 4.

Pierini, a third-degree black belt who has practiced for 25 years, arrived from Brazil in 1999, according to his school's Web site.

He said in a 2003 interview with the Review that "martial arts stress coordination and balance and to help the young and the old alike learn to defend themselves while staying fit and gaining self confidence."

One of his dreams was to create a team to compete in regional tournaments, he said.

Half Moon Bay High School has hosted several California Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Opens, as well as a mixed martial arts exhibition. Pierini served as tournament director for all those events. Additionally, he has been an instructor at Coastside Children's Programs of Half Moon Bay.

Dennis Loubal, who has taken one-on-one instruction with Pierini, said he was shocked at the turn of events. Loubal is a Half Moon Bay Police officer, but is not involved in the case.

"I thought he was a great instructor and I'd consider him a friend," said Loubal.

Loubal, who has studied in three martial arts schools, said ordinary massage and physical contact is not uncommon in training.

Raul Castillo, Pierini's top student, said he will take over the day-to-day operations of the school.

"All the students still want to be there," Castillo said. "They want a place to train. Everyone is very supportive. Everyone wants to keep the school open."

Castillo said he felt responsible for continuing the school.

"I feel like an incredible weight is now on my shoulders," Castillo said. "I'm going to try and make the best of it."

A fight night was scheduled at Half Moon Bay High School next month. In addition, Castillo was scheduled to have his second professional fight. Both those events have been postponed.

Pierini awaits his preliminary hearing on Jan. 19.


3/09/2007 11:33am,
by Phil Lowe
8 March 2007, 8:19 am

Former UFC competitor Joao Pierini faces a prison sentence after pleading no contest in a Redwood City, CA court on Tuesday to charges he inappropriately touched four teenage pupils.

According to local news reports, Brazilian Pierini, 35, met with four teenage boys aged 15 to 17 at a Starbucks coffee shop last December, where he invited them to his jiu-jitsu studio in Half Moon Bay. Prosecutors allege that Pierini offered them massages, during which he inappropriately touched one of the boys.

The father of one boy was later informed of the alleged incidents and contacted police.

On Tuesday afternoon, Pierini pleaded no contest to one count of felony lewd acts upon a minor and three counts of misdemeanor child molestation, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. He will remain in custody in lieu of $500,000US, and will return to court April 14 for sentencing, where he could face two years in prison.

Pierini has not fought since his UFC loss to Yves Edwards in 2002.


3/09/2007 11:52am,
HMB martial arts champ convicted of molestation
By Michelle Durand
A Brazilian martial arts champion and instructor accused of giving inappropriate massages to four boys, including three students, is facing two years in prison and life-long registration as a sex offender after pleading no contest to one felony and three misdemeanors counts of child molestation.

Joao Pierini, 35, changed his plea at a pre-trial conference rather than stand trial on the original nine charges including contributing to the delinquency of a minor, annoying a child under 18, sexual battery and lewd and lascivious behavior. If convicted of those charges, he faced up to five years in prison. Instead, he is looking at no more than two years in prison when sentenced April 14.

The plea bargain is satisfactory because he copped to the felony and must register as a sex offender, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Pierini’s plea nearly ends a case that has flown through the local court system since his December arrest. Pierini previously waived a preliminary hearing and was set for trial March 19 until he changed his plea.

On Dec. 15, four boys ages 15 to 17 allegedly ran into Pierini at a local Starbucks coffee shop and he invited them back to his studio, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at 2830 N. Cabrillo Highway in Half Moon Bay, where he also lives.

Pierini reportedly gave the boys his keys, told them to put their beer in the refrigerator and said he’d meet them there.

As they drank beer, Pierini offered the boys massages. The first victim later reported Pierini massaged his genital area until he got up and rejoined his friends without sharing what had happened. The next day, he asked the other boys if they had a similar experience and they agreed. The boys told the first victim’s father and they reported the situation to the Half Moon Bay police.

Pierini is a 25-year jiu jitsu veteran with a third-degree black belt, according to the biography posted on his workplace Web site.

The Web site also advertises therapeutic massage for trainers.

Pierini moved to the United States from Sao Paolo, Brazil in 1999 and opened the Half Moon Bay school with Jim Irizarry. The two also created the Joao Pierini Association and a competition known as the California Open International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & Submission Grappling Championships.

According to the Ultimate Fighting Championship Web site, in 2002 Pierini fought under the moniker “The Tasmanian Devil.”

He remains in custody in lieu of $500,00 bail and has no prior convictions in San Mateo County.


That's a big bond!

www.jiujitsuhalfmoonbay.com - That's their site. It's suspended? Don't we have some members that train there? Guys?

3/09/2007 12:05pm,
Holy **** I drive past this place every time we go to Half Moon Bay to surf.

I seriously thought about training there too. Ick.

edit - I always remember thinking the guy looked creepy in his brochure photo. The Pedo-smile is making me believe in profiling.

Bluto Blutarsky
3/09/2007 1:02pm,
His personal sick and deranged pedophilia desires, have nothing to do with the school.

I personally feel bad for his successor taking over. his twisted sexual behaviors has caused him to postpone a fight and left a whole bunch of crap in his lap.

3/09/2007 2:45pm,
Maybe he had a reason to move to to San Fransicko besides jujutsu lessons?

Every time one of these sick bastards act up I think it brings us one step closer to Government regulation. The USJA requires background checks for this sort of crap before you can get coach certification. Maybe this wouldn't be a bad thing for all organizations to adopt.

3/09/2007 3:02pm,
damn, that guy is an unsavoury looking character

3/09/2007 3:45pm,

Incorrigible 1
3/09/2007 3:56pm,
Talk about hitting two birds with one stone... First, the guy is giving martial arts in that area (hell, as a whole) a bad spin. Then he is further damaging the public image of professional massage therapists, who have a hard enough time maintaining a public image of integrity with the number of "non-professionals" who engage in the less legal forms of massage.

On a side note, a female friend who is a license massage therapist gets calls from men asking about "happy ending massages", to which she replies she'll happily end them up in the hospital if they come to her office. The scary part is she could probably hospitalize the majority of people asking for that b.s...

3/09/2007 5:05pm,

The pedo-smile...For shits and giggles I took that test........got a 73%. Messed up picking the women. Guess I still shouldn't be picking out nannies or babysitters.

3/09/2007 5:30pm,


3/10/2007 12:06pm,
I hope the school as a whole isn't too badly affected. One rotten egg...

3/10/2007 12:49pm,
"Annoying" a child under 18? They have a law for that?

That being said, I think being diddled by a pedophile constitutes something a bit stronger than mere "annoyance".

3/10/2007 1:16pm,
I wish there was a law against under 18 year olds annoying adults. Seriously, it'd mean I didn't have to bury my neighbour's kids in their garden after all.

3/10/2007 4:29pm,
I find (working in a prison) that all P.C. homilies about judging people and generalizing aside-- if you talk to a ChoMo it is kinda easy to spot them, or at least feel that there's something creepy going on. Of course, that's if you deal with dozens of ChoMos and then have hundreds of respectable murders, robbers, and drug addicts to compare them with.

One thing that is extremely a-typical here, is that the guy copped a plea from the start. All of the Pedos I've seen are in complete denial and will never publicly admit anything.

3/10/2007 7:59pm,
Hopefully, he gets deported.