A boxing coach at Santa Ana Boxing was arrested Sunday on suspicion he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy who boxes at the club, police said Monday.
Anthony Serrano, 45, is being held on $100,000 bail accused of accused of lewd and lascivious acts with a child. Police said Serrano allegedly assaulted the teen at the club and at his nearby home.
Well-known in the Santa Ana area, Serrano has a reputation as a no-nonsense father figure and mentor, police said.
"You’re talking about a suspect who is a self-proclaimed former drug addict and criminal," said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police Department. "A large guy who loves boxing and that’s what he’s teaching the kids."
Policesaid the alleged victim was afraid to come forward until he recently moved out of Santa Ana.
Serrano has run the Santa Ana Boxing Club for a decade, believing it's one way to keep kids out of gangs.
Miguel Ojeda, 18, who works out at the club, said he was one of many people surprised by the news of Serrano's arrest – citing the suspect’s reputation for giving out Christmas presents.
"He seems cool," Ojeda said. "He cares about the kids, always coming around and giving them support."
Authorities said the Orange County Youth Commission, which runs the club, suspended Serrano once before, but did not give further details.
"He’s a good man, he doesn’t deserve this" said John Ramirez, club manager.
Ramirez fears the program may be in jeopardy without Serrano.
"His heart and soul are dedicated to this club," Ramirez said. "I love him like a brother. I’ve never seen any problems, never out of line. That’s all I've got to say."
Serrano is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.