CROSBY Two well-known men associated with the Keating Chevrolet dealership in Crosby have been arrested and charged with indecency with a child and one with sexual assault of a child. The community has expressed shock and disbelief at the allegations.
The charges stem from stattements made by the mother of the child, to an investigator for the Harris County District Attorneys office. After interviewing the child and the mother, Sgt. Ronald Hunter swore out an arrest warrant for employee George Koutani, 37, and Keating owner Riku Melartin, 51. Melartin owns Keating with his wife Tina Jou, according to reports.
Court records show that Koutani was arrested on Dec. 20, and bonded out at $30,000 the next day. Melartin was charged the same day, but did not surrender until Jan. 3rd. He bonded out at $50,000, but on Jan. 8th he was rearrested and his bond rescinded, apparently at the order of the judge.
Through his attorney, James Butler, Melartin has denied all allegations as untrue. He claims the parents, who worked for him, tried to petition for a huge cash settlement not to bring charges. Attorney Butler said that because of his position and perceived wealth, that Melartin is an easy target for this type of demand, and believes others may also be motivated to try.
According to the original arrest warrant, there were three incidents which led to the charges. In mid August, Melartin and Koutani supposedly propositioned the girl, gave her a drink laced with alcohol, and fondled and touched her inappropriately in an upstairs office at the dealership. She said that Melartin then gave her money.
At a later date, in October, she claims that Melartin and she went to an upstairs room and had intercourse. He gave her money on this occasion, too, she said. The mother learned of the episodes, and the girl, who is only 16, was examined at Texas Childrens Hospital the next day, and showed signs of genital abrasions, according to the District Attorneys warrant.
The girl had worked at Keating as a receptionist, and the mother had a cleaning contract. The father also worked at one of their used car lots.
Keating and Jou bought the Chevrolet dealership early in 2011 from the previous owner, John Keating, who had owned the business since 1990. The new owners at the time also owned several used car lots, but this was their first new car franchise.
Melartin has had other problems with the law, and is currently on probation, awaiting disposition of a case charging him with owning and running a Sexually Oriented Business without the proper licenses. This business is known as Babes, an adult nightclub on FM1960 in Houston. After being sued by Harris County Attorney Melissa Spinks as a public nuisance, Melartin subsequently closed the club.
Melartin is a citizen of Finland, not a U.S. citizen. As part of his bond requirements, he had to surrender his passport, not have contact with the girl or any witnesses, wear a GPS monitor, and remain in Harris County.
After the first arraignment, his case was assigned to Judge Maria Jackson, Harris County Criminal Court #339, and the next hearing was set for Jan. 30th. However, after his rearrest on Tuesday of this week, a new hearing date of Jan. 10th was set for these cases, and the SOB case also. Koutanis hearing date is Feb. 5th.
According to the District Attorney, the charges against the two are 2nd degree felonies, with possible punishment of 2 to 20 years in jail, and $10,000 fines.
However, a court must determine guilt or innocence, and to date this has not happened. Therefore, presumption of innocence prevails.
Melartin is well-known in the Houston area, mostly due to a story about his apprehension at gunpoint of an armed robber in his Bellaire neighbors home, whom he detained with his own firearm until police arrived.
Keating Chevrolet went on to make a legend of the story, with video on YouTube and photos of Melartin with his gun, used in some Keating ads. He was dubbed the Finnisher, a triple entendré. He is quoted in the commercials saying If theres a bad guy in my neighborhood, I say, not on my watch. And also, If theres a damsel in distress, I say, not on my watch.