Anthony Serrano, 45, has been in charge of the Santa Ana Boxing Club for the past 10 years. He was arrested on Sunday after police received a complaint involving a 15-year-old boy who is in the boxing program.
The victim was described by police as being a promising young boxer. Serrano allegedly kissed the boy in public at tournaments, as well as at the club, and molested him as many as 50 times over the past year.
"There was several incidents of fondling, as well as physical groping and kissing," said Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
Serrano is well known locally for trying to keep young people off the streets through boxing. He was a former gang member who turned his own life around.
"He looks for kids that are vulnerable, kids that are looking up to him as a mentor, looking up to him as somebody to teach them a skill, and he's taking advantage of it," Bertagna said.
Joshua Diaz, the suspect's roommate and a former boxer in the club, claims the alleged victim's mother made up the accusations following a personal dispute with Serrano over an unrelated matter.
"It's all false accusations. It's all a lie, it's a big lie," said Joshua Diaz, the suspect's roommate.
But police say Serrano was investigated in 2008 after a complaint about Serrano and inappropriate conduct involving a young teenage boy, who was also a member of the boxing club. The D.A. did not file charges at that time due to a lack of evidence.
Authorities say Serrano was recently suspended for two weeks for inappropriate actions, but whether those actions are related to this case remains unclear.
Police are concerned that there are other victims. Anyone with information is urged to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS.
Serrano is being held at Central Jail on $100,000 bail. He has not yet been charged.