A Nottinghamshire martial arts instructor and his wife, an actress, have been convicted of a series of not recent sexual offenses against children.
Victor Marke, who ran martial arts clubs in Nottingham and elsewhere, was convicted of grooming and inciting sexual activity with two underage members of the club. His wife, Zara Marke, participated in a sex crime against one of the victims.
The first survivor reported that from the age of 15, Victor Marke had taken opportunities when they were alone together to initiate sexual activity with her. The sexual activities became more intense and frequent, culminating in full intercourse when she turned 16. The activity only stopped when Marke started a relationship with Zara Marke before the couple eventually got married.
The second survivor reported that she was close to the couple as a member of one of Marke’s clubs, where she was coached by Zara Marke. She spent a lot of time with them as their life at home was difficult and she looked up to Zara Marke because of her position in the club and her impressive experience in martial arts competitions. She was encouraged to have sexual activity with the couple by Zara brand for several months. The abuse stopped when the survivor severed all ties with the Markes.
Both survivors reported that they were made to feel special, but did not know what to do about the sexual activity. Both were told not to tell anyone what happened.
The couple were accused of a total of 18 sexual offenses against children. Victor Marke was charged with four counts of indecent assault against the first survivor and both were charged with sexual activity with a child in relation to the second survivor. They were found guilty of all charges after a three-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court.
Nicole Hepburn of the CPS said: “This was an appalling case in which a position of trust and respect was abused to obtain sexual gratification. Victor Marke ruthlessly exploited the age and vulnerability of these girls, as well as his status as an admired coach. He made them feel special, listened to them and then scolded them. Zara Marke also used her position to commit child abuse.
“Both defendants have denied their actions, instead blaming the victims and accusing them of lying. Thanks to their clear and credible evidence in court, the Markes themselves were exposed as true liars.
“It takes courage to stand up to your perpetrators and testify in this way, and I want to express my respect and gratitude to the survivors for everything they did to ensure the Markes are held accountable for their criminal actions. This abuse may have happened a few years ago, but that doesn’t make it any less serious or an impediment to justice. I encourage anyone who has experienced abuse in the past to come forward with the knowledge that the CPS is yours will take the case seriously.”
Victor and Zara Marke will be sentenced on Monday May 16th.
Structure of the housing:
Both survivors reported the abuse several years after it happened. In cases of non-recent sexual abuse, the testimonies of survivors are crucial.
Both survivors provided clear and compelling evidence as to what happened to them, and alongside their evidence, the CPS was able to present a pattern of behavior in which Victor Marke abused his position as a martial arts instructor and engaged in sexual behavior towards underage girls who attended his clubs. Instead of demonstrating a duty of care, he acted towards them as if sexualized behavior was his right.
As part of the prosecution’s case, the jury was presented with myths and stereotypes, including that no one had reported the abuse at the time, that they had remained in contact with the defendants throughout the period that the abuse was occurring, and this because they talked about traumatic events from their youth, some details about certain dates and places were no longer clear to them.
The jury was reminded that this did not affect the truthfulness of their reports. Many people do not report abuse at the time it occurs, for very understandable reasons. The decision to report it after the event is not an impediment to justice or any indication that the survivor’s reports are untrue.