A purported karate expert who has appeared on national television shows and escaped from prisons in three states, one by knocking down the walls with his bare feet and hands, was returned to Orange County from Georgia to face 13 counts of child molestation.

James Allen Hydrick, a 29-year-old ex-convict who's reputed to hold a ninth-degree black belt, was booked Tuesday into the Orange County Jail after a peculiar monthlong extradition from the South.In 1982, Hyrdick gained considerable notoriety in Utah after he escaped from the Utah State Prison, where he was serving time for stealing a $75 record player. He later turned himself in.

In interviews with the Deseret News, he said he had been trained in the martial arts by a Chinese monk and was credited with lifting, in the presence of reporters, various objects and turning the pages of books, all using his mental powers. He later admitted he used trickery.

During one point in his extradition back to California, Hydrick spooked his guards by convincing them he was using supernatural powers to rock the van they were riding in. He then befriended the sheriff he was turned over to and was invited to play Santa Claus for local children, authorities said.

Hydrick is suspected of molesting at least three children ranging in age from 10 to 15 years old between June and November, 1988, said Huntington Beach police Sgt. Bill Peterson. He is accused of felony child molestation and two misdemeanors - failing to register as a sex offender and child annoyance.

"He hung out on the beach," Peterson said. "He breaks bricks and gave demonstrations. The kids are young and impressionable."