Karate Instructor Sent to Prison for Sex Assault on Student

SCRANTON -- A karate instructor in Lackawanna County has been sentenced for sexually abusing one of his students.

John Smith was sentenced Tuesday to six and a half to 16 years in prison for the abuse of a 9-year-old boy.

He was found guilty last year of indecent assault and corruption of minors.

Smith, the owner of Serenity Martial Arts in Clarks Summit, was arrested in January of 2017.

Smith ran the karate studio for about six years before his arrest last year. He will spend at least the next six years in prison for sexually abusing one of his students.

For one of the charges against him, the judge sentenced Smith to the maximum sentence.

"I think what we saw, in this case, is what we often see, is that individuals that are in a position of trust with young children seek that position out and manipulate it and use it to their advantage. That's what happened here," said Lackawanna County deputy district attorney Mariclare Hayes.

According to court papers, the 9-year-old victim told police Smith played "truth or dare" with him and dared him to strip naked or be spanked 50 times.

The judge said he handed down the lengthy sentence because Smith worked to build trust with the child.

Smith denies all of it.

"The court designated him as a 'groomer.' If that was the case, I'd suspect that there would be other individuals somewhere out there that would have brought this to law enforcement attention, especially since he's been doing this since 2011. It's been quite a bit of time," said defense attorney Corey Kolcharno.

Smith's defense attorney says they plan to appeal the sentence. Smith said in court this is all based on a false accusation.


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