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Westmoreland

Man accused of molesting child after 28 years in prison surrenders to Westmoreland deputies

Rich Cholodofsky
| Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, 1:03 p.m.

A man recently freed from prison after new DNA evidence drew doubts about his rape conviction turned himself in to Westmoreland County officials on Monday after a judge revoked his bond as he waits to be tried again in the 1990 case.

John Kunco, 53, faces new allegations that he molested a 6-year-old girl in McKees Rocks following his May release from prison after serving 28 years for raping a New Kensington woman. Kunco posted $25,000 bail for the new charges on Friday and was released from jail Sunday afternoon, Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs said.

Westmoreland County prosecutors on Monday asked Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Feliciani to revoke Kunco’s $10,000 unsecured bond in the rape case in light of the new charges.

“The judge stated specifically, on the record, that he had to refrain from violations of the law,” said Westmoreland County Assistant District Attorney Jim Hopson.

Feliciani ordered Kunco be immediately detained. A bond revocation hearing should be held within the next month, the judge said.

Kunco arrived at the Greensburg courthouse to surrender before 4 p.m. Monday, Sheriff Jonathan Held said.

According to police, a young girl reported that Kunco improperly touched her in a sexual manner. Allegheny County police charged him with aggravated indecent assault, two counts of indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of a minor.

Kunco was released from custody on May 23 after Feliciani vacated his 45- to 90-year prison sentence and ordered a new trial. Evidence used nearly three decades ago to convict Kunco of rape and other offenses was based on unreliable science related to healed bite marks found on his accuser, the judge determined.

Police said the woman, who has since died, was blindfolded and not see her attacker during the assault. She identified Kunco based on his lisp.

The Innocence Project of New York represented Kunco during his appeals and said DNA evidence found at the scene proved that he was not present at the time of the rape.

Karen Thompson, Kunco’s lawyer from the Innocence Project, said Monday she will continue to challenge the 1991 conviction.

“The new allegations are unrelated to the overturning of Mr. Kunco’s 1991 conviction for a crime he did not commit. Mr. Kunco was convicted by discredited and erroneous bite mark testimony that has been refuted by DNA evidence and new evidence of a solid alibi proving his innocence. None of these facts of innocence have changed,” Thompson said.

“We look forward to appearing before Judge Feliciani and having the opportunity to provide information about the circumstances surrounding the new allegations against Mr. Kunco,” he added.

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