PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) - A teen confronted the owner of a taekwondo studio in Pembroke Pines about hidden cameras she found in the bathroom.
Robert Franco has been arrested after police accused him of video voyeurism.
About 150 children and adults train at Master Franco’s Taekwondo Academy, but police said something else was going on here. Not only was he teaching them taekwondo, they said he was using his students for his private show.
In the martial arts world, this 17-year-old is good, very good.
Jade: “I’m very passionate about that sport. I’ve been doing it for a long time.”
And having a second-degree black belt in taekwondo may have given Jade, as we will call her, the confidence to do what she did.
Patrick Fraser: “Who asked you to try on the chest protector?”
Jade: “He did.”
Patrick Fraser: “Franco asked you to try it on?”
Jade: “Yes, he told me to put it on. I already tried it on before.”
The master, Robert Franco, asked Jade to try on a chest protector again, which would require her to undress in the bathroom.
Patrick Fraser: “So, he was setting you up to see you naked?”
Jade felt something was wrong.
As she went into the bathroom to change, she noticed two new picture frames that had been put up a month ago.
Jade: “And it just sparked a red light in my head. I just felt like something was wrong.”
Jade was not only an instructor at the studio, she is something else: very sharp.
Jade: “So, I turned off the light in the bathroom. I turned on my flashlight on my phone, and I pointed at the picture, and I saw a glare of a camera lens.”
This was the small camera in a Bruce Lee picture frame and another camera in the other new picture frame.
Jade: “So, when I finally saw it I was shocked. Even though I was not surprised, I was shocked, so right away, I took a video of them in case he was going to destroy them.”
Jade didn’t run, though.
She said she walked straight over and confronted Franco about the hidden cameras.
Jade: “He kept saying it was a gift from someone, and as I kept asking who gave that gift to him, he said he didn’t know, that it came in the mail, and that he didn’t know where it came from.”
Franco calls himself the master, but on this day, Jade was in charge.
Patrick Fraser: “Do you think your training in taekwondo gave you the confidence to confront him?”
Jade: “Yeah, absolutely, yeah. I was not scared to confront him. He was the one that was scared.”
As the 17-year-old called her father to come get her, she said Franco threw the video recording frames in the garbage. She said she took them out and called police.
Franco was arrested and charged with three counts of video voyeurism.
Stephan Lopez, attorney: “To secretly record a child, you are at a level of perversion and sickness that is beyond help.”
Stephan Lopez is a former sex crimes detective and now an attorney. What Jade did, he said, amazes him.
Stephan Lopez: “And she knew that if she didn’t speak up, if she didn’t confront this man, he would do it to other children younger than her, and she couldn’t stand for that, and for that, she should be applauded.”
Jade said she is proud that police said she stopped the videotaping of naked children and adults and hopes other children who are the victims of sexual offenders learn from her: don’t stay quiet.
Jade: “To not be scared to stand up for what you know is right, and in cases like this, people tend to get away with it because girls don’t speak up.”
Pembroke Pines Police said they confiscated a cellphone and a computer from the studio. On that cellphone, they found video of Jade while she was in the bathroom. That’s why they urge anyone who trained at Master Franco’s Taekwondo Academy to call police because they might be a victim and not even know it.
I asked Jade if she thought she would step forward like she did if she hadn’t had years of taekwondo training. She said, “I don’t know. I’ve always done taekwondo my entire life.”
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