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.

10 comments

  • John

    If true,let’s pray it not ,beside the law aspect of this let’s ban him from the martial arts and make sure his instructor and the parent martial arts group takes all his rank a Way For ever

  • Bleepnoid

    I accompanied my children to all practices until they were old enough to understand. Parents today just want babysitting services and only get involved if they have to get involved. Now tons of folks are up in arms demanding this and that. Try being involved in your kids life and participating not interrogating after they get home.

    • Abc

      Do you know the victim? Do you know the parents? Do you know if they were there to most practices? Were you a part of their every-day lives? If not, perhaps you shouldn’t make assumptions and keep the negative comments about the parents to yourself. A child was abused, trust was broken and in the end he will be held accountable for his actions.

      • Bleepnoid

        Comment was about parentS, in general. Are you trying to tell me a parent involved would not be aware of impropriety? Perhaps, you should reexamine was you define as, involved.

      • BE NICE

        ABC, the reporter states clearly in one of the videos that the 9 year old child was often left there alone with the karate instructor.
        And as far as the perpetrator being suitably punished, in the past he’s been charged and found guilty of similar acts, yet he was still able to own and run a business in which is only students were underage children. That is very discouraging to some people. Don’t know what’s so hard to understand about that.

    • PartyatGatsbys

      Did you ever stop to think that a tragedy such as this could happen to YOU or YOUR family in an INSTANT? You NEVER expect something like this to happen to you until it does. And while you sit behind your computer screen or cell phone, acting like you are “parent of the year” and you would NEVER allow this to happen and that you would “know better”, or that your kids would know better in a situation where intimidated by an authority figure, just wait until something seemingly normal in YOU or YOUR family’s lives gets turned upside down. You cannot expect parents, who may have other children at home, or multiple jobs to support their family, to be with their children 24/7. This disgusting POS of a “man” went through the state’s REQUIRED clearances and was deemed safe to be with children. I hope that YOU may never have to face what this family is going through, but if you do….REMEMBER your post and how idiotic it is to think that you know EVERYTHING about everything and that you would “do better.”

    • Silverfish Imperetrix

      You should GFY. That way we’d be rid of you, and you wouldn’t be beholden to anyone sexually either. Win – Win.

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