After Karate Instructor Charged, Martial Arts Community Reacts
POCONO SUMMIT — People in the martial arts community are reacting after a karate instructor from Lackawanna County was arrested and charged with corruption of minors and assault.
John Smith of Clarks Summit was just charged with corruption of minors and assault.
He owned Serenity Martial Arts in Clarks Summit and it was there that police say Smith had a 9-year-old boy undress several times, sometimes spanking him and warning him not to tell anyone.
At a different karate school in the Poconos, there are 270 students, from toddlers to adults.
“Kids come here and they expect to be safe here, we can’t have an unsafe environment for these kids,” said one parent.
“There are a lot of martial arts school owners that I know from all around the country who are doing great things for kids so it stinks that one person wrecks the name for everybody,” said owner Anthony Gilbert.
Parents Newswatch 16 spoke with call it frightening.
“I get very upset, I have a special needs child and I’m always worried about things like that.”
Police say Smith took his victim alone into a closed room at his business.
At this school in the Poconos, instructors say parents can see their children at all times.
“You would never see a child alone with an instructor in a secluded area, as you see in our lobby, we have closed circuit television and for any reason if the kid is out of focus or out of view, there are always four instructors, a child is never, never alone with an instructor,” said Joe Surovcik.
Instructors say it’s also important for parents to know they have the right to ask questions, and they should ask questions to keep their children safe.
“Very few parents ask if there are background checks. And of course we have them, make sure you ask, make sure you ask to see them,” said Gilbert.
Gilbert says background checks don’t offer full protection from first-time offenders.
A former instructor at the academy, Stephen Rementer is in prison after pleading guilty to having a sexual relationship with a student in 2011 at the girl’s home in the Poconos.
Prior to being charged, he had no criminal record.
As for John Smith of Clarks Summit, investigators say he may have more victims.