Ex-North Versailles karate instructor on trial on charges of molestation
A former karate instructor is on trial in Allegheny County facing accusations of molesting five students and then attempting to persuade his cellmate to partake in an intricate plot to defame, discredit and ultimately kill the accusers.
Michael Scherbanic, 30, was originally charged in June 2016 with molesting a former student he taught at Tang Soo Do Karate College in North Versailles.
More students came forward with similar accusations, resulting in five counts each of indecent assault, child endangerment and corruption of minors; four counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a victim younger than 16; three counts of indecent exposure; and one count each of witness intimidation and obstruction.
The abuse allegedly began as early as the mid-2000s.
Testimony began Monday in the case that also includes 27 counts of criminal solicitation.
In February 2017, Scherbanic attempted to solicit his cellmate at the Allegheny County Jail to kill his accusers in a plot that involved hand-drawn maps, a list of code names, Molotov cocktails and other explosives and instructions on how to frame one alleged victim as a drug dealer, authorities said.
Scherbanic's cellmate turned over documents to investigators and wore a wire during his final meeting with the karate instructor, according to authorities.
Central to the alleged plot was a four-page document that contained hand-drawn maps and instructions for John Doe 6 and John Doe 7 — two former karate students. They were to make false reports indicating that Jane Doe 2, a grandmother of an alleged victim, told them to say they were sexually assaulted by Scherbanic.
Charging documents outlined a timeline for the cellmate once he was released from jail: “Get funds, do recon, buy supplies, buy burner phones x 11, call John Doe 9 and John Doe 11, frame John Doe 2, Snapchat John Does 6 and 7, find out results of Jane Doe 2's call to John Does 6 and 7 (if police were informed), place second call from John Doe 4's family to John Doe 7, execute Order 66 with as many as possible.”
John Does 1 through 5 are alleged victims, John Does 6 through 8 are former karate students, and John Does 9 and 11 are friends of Scherbanic's. Order 66 is the act of killing the victims, according to the complaint.
Testimony continued Tuesday in front of Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, email@example.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.