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Santa Rosa man wins appeal over teen kissing

A state appeals court has reversed a conviction against a Santa Rosa man found guilty of misdemeanor battery for allegedly kissing a teenage karate student who developed a crush on him, his lawyer said Thursday.

Jason Bates, 42, was acquitted by a jury last year of more serious felony charges connected to a series of incidents that arose in 2007 at Finley Community Center and a martial arts party at his house.

Bates, a systems engineer, was a fellow karate student and part-time instructor, said his lawyer, Stephen Turer.

Although jurors said there was no evidence he molested the then 13-year-old girl, they found him guilty of participating in the kiss, which Turer maintained she initiated.

Bates appealed on the grounds that the charge wasn't filed within the one-year statute of limitations for misdemeanors. The appeals panel agreed and overturned the conviction.

On Wednesday, Bates appeared before a Sonoma County judge who set aside the conviction and ordered he be reimbursed for about $200 in fines.

The reversal means Bates will not be liable for $6,000 in restitution sought by the girl's family, Turer said.

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