1. Archive

Man gets 20 years in sexual assaults

(ran Seminole edition)

A tae kwon do instructor has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually abusing two of his students.

Darrell Dison, 47, pleaded no contest to four child sex abuse charges last week. He was arrested in March 2003 on charges he sexually abused two girls who were in his tae kwon do class. The girls, who are sisters, both were under the age of 16 at the time of the abuse, prosecutor Scott Rosenwasser said.

The girls' guardian agreed to a plea deal to spare the children from testifying in a trial, Rosenwasser said. If convicted at trial, Dison would have faced a minimum of about 30 years in prison, the prosecutor said.

Dison's prison sentence will be followed by 10 years of probation. He also will have to register with the state as a sexual offender, court records show.

"For pretty much the rest of his life we'll know what he's doing," Rosenwasser said.

Dison met the girls while he was a tae kwon do instructor at the Leisure World Mobile Home Park on U.S. 19 and Ulmerton Road. He charged students $10 for lessons, which he held in the park's recreation hall.

His 20 or so students ranged in age from about 6 to adult.

When mobile home park residents began hearing about possible abuse, the park association's president discovered that Dison had been accused of child sex abuse before.

In 1997, he was arrested on a charge of capital sexual battery on a child. Prosecutors later elected not to pursue that charge.

In 2000, Dison was charged with child molestation and lewd exhibition. He pleaded no contest to two lesser child abuse charges after he spent 478 days in jail. He received no additional prison time, no probation and was not deemed a sexual offender, records show. He was released from jail in March 2002.

At some point, he moved into the Leisure World park. Pinellas sheriff's detectives began investigating Dison in late 2002 after they received anonymous calls from park residents, sheriff's officials said.

Park residents also confronted Dison about his record. His classes were canceled, and he moved out. He was arrested March 19, 2003.

Dison was held at the Pinellas County Jail from the day of his arrest until his sentencing. The 540 days he has served in jail since his arrest will be credited toward his sentence.

Under Florida sentencing rules, Dison will be in his early 60s when he will be eligible for release from prison.