HIALEAH (CBS4) – The owner of a mixed martial arts gym in Hialeah faces charges of molesting one of his students. Howard Scott Puig, 51, took in and taught troubled teens at El Padrino Mixed Martial Arts Gym at 4735 East 10th Court in Hialeah.
He faces charges of lewd or lascivious battery and lewd or lascivious molestation after police say a 15 year old boy told his parents Puig molested him in June. His parents notified police and Puig was arrested Wednesday.
Police say Puig was the teen’s caretaker at the time of the alleged abuse.
“Not only did he abuse this kid, is he accused of that abusing one of his students, but he abused the trust they had in him,” said Carl Zogby, Hialeah Police spokesman.
Out of jail on bond and back at the gym Thursday, Puig said his attorney advised him not to talk about the case, but said “Don’t judge me, just find out exactly what happened, you will see.”
“This is the gym. This is where I help the guys the girls everybody that needs something for their life and change their life around,” he continued, adding, “That’s the only thing I do. If they want to crucify me because of that I don’t know I’ve been doing this for years.”
According to arresting documents: a young man, whom Puig took in, told police Puig molested him after allegedly making him inhale an unknown substance from a brown bottle that prevented him from controlling his body movement.
Police say when they say searched Puig’s bedroom, they found a brown bottle with an unknown substance.
Police say the gym has been shut down by the building department for numerous violations. Students spent the day moving equipment out. Many are upset the gym is closing and do not believe the allegations against Puig.
“He’s helped me a lot through the years, he’s guided me to where I’m at,” said Jerel Marcalle.
“I was struggling in my life and he gave me a place to live… he’s been a father figure to me, he’s been a friend,” said Felix Roca.
Police say they’re concerned there are more victims out there. Anyone who has information is urged to call Hialeah Police at 305-687-2525