AP NEWS

Former Clarks Summit Karate Teacher’s Conviction Upheld For Spanking Student’s Bare Buttocks

March 25, 2019

The state Superior Court upheld the conviction and sentence of a former Clarks Summit karate school instructor found guilty of indecently assaulting a 9-year-old student. John Smith, 33, was charged in January 2017 after the student reported Smith repeatedly spanked his bare buttocks as part of a game of “truth or dare.” The incidents happened between September 2016 and January 2017. A Lackawanna County jury convicted Smith in November 2017 of indecent assault, corruption of a minor, simple assault and endangering the welfare of a child. He was sentenced in February 2018 to 6½ to 16 years in state prison. Smith challenged his conviction, arguing, in part, that Judge Vito Geroulo made several legal errors. He also argued that the sentence, which exceeded the “aggravated,” or most serious range of sentencing guidelines, was excessive. A three-member panel of the Superior Court upheld Geroulo’s trial rulings and rejected Smith’s challenge to the sentence, finding that Geroulo properly considered all factors in reaching his decision. The court said Geroulo noted he was deeply troubled by Smith’s actions. The victim testified Smith had him remove all his clothing and would spank him as he climbed a metal pole. He also forced the boy to decide between 10 hard spankings or 50 light spankings, which he disguised “as a plan of conditioning and toughening of the child.” “The trial court reveled at (Smith’s) ability to repeatedly to engage in this course of conduct despite the ramifications of his conduct on the child ... and opined that the victim, in addition to shame and pain, would have longterm effects in placing trust in adults,” the court said. Contact the writer: tbesecker@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9137; @tmbeseckerTT on Twitter