SANTA ANA (CBS) — A 45-year-old boxing mentor was behind bars Monday on suspicion of molesting a teenager he once coached, police reported.

Anthony Serrano, who coaches youths at Santa Ana Boxing at 901 E. Fourth St., was booked on suspicion of lewd acts with a juvenile and was being held on $100,000 bail, according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

KNX 1070’s Mike Landa reports Serrano is a “self-proclaimed recovering drug addict and criminal who has turned his life around”.

“That’s what’s so disheartening,” Bertagna said. “He portrays himself as a mentor and father figure and he takes advantage of that.”

The victim, who started visiting Santa Ana Boxing four or five years ago, was 15 years old when the alleged molestation began a year ago, Bertagna said.

The boy has since moved to another city in Orange County, and, with distance from Serrano, felt more comfortable talking to his mother about what happened, Bertagna said.

The mother immediately notified the Orange County Youth Commission, which oversees the gym where Serrano coaches, Bertagna said. A commission board member then notified police, Bertagna said.

“A few years ago, they see he’s a prospect and this mentor/coach takes an interest in him and starts working with the kid, who does not have a father, so he (Serrano) takes over the father role of teaching the kid how to box,” Bertagna said.

The alleged molestations happened in the gym, at the boy’s home, and at boxing competitions, said Bertagna, who added that similar allegations were made against Serrano in 2008. However, prosecutors declined to file charges.

“Now (investigators) are working with the DA’s office to include the prior act in this investigation,” Bertagna said.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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