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Westmoreland

Lawyers for John Kunco: Child molestation charges no reason to jail him before retrial in rape case

Rich Cholodofsky
| Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, 2:45 p.m.
John Kunco
John Kunco

An Allegheny County man awaiting retrial for rape of a New Kensington woman nearly three decades ago wants to be released from jail, saying his arrest last month on allegations of child sexual assault is not sufficient to keep him behind bars.

Attorneys for John Kunco, 53, filed court documents Friday asking Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Feliciani to reinstate bail. The judge last month revoked Kunco’s $10,000 unsecured bail after he was charged in Allegheny County with sex crimes related to allegations made by a 7-year-old girl.

Lawyers with the Innocence Project of New York contend Kunco should not be held in custody without bond for the 1991 rape case.

“Absolutely none of the facts have changed regarding the illegitimacy of the conviction for which he has now demonstrated his innocence and which this court vacated based on the irrefutable evidence presented,” his lawyers wrote.

A jury convicted Kunco for raping a woman in 1990 inside her New Kensington apartment. He was sentenced to serve 45-to-90 years in prison.

In subsequent appeals, Kunco’s lawyers maintained the evidence used to convict him was insufficient, including healed bite marks on the victim’s arms that were matched to Kunco, as well as the lack of any DNA evidence to indicate he was present at the rape scene.

Feliciani in May granted Kunco a new trial, saying he didn’t believe the evidence presented at trial was enough to support the conviction.

Following his release, police in Allegheny County said Kunco molested the young girl. He was charged with aggravated indecent assault and other related crimes but released on $25,000 bail.

A day after his release, Feliciani revoked Kunco’s bond in the rape case, which Westmoreland County prosecutors say they intended to retry. No trial date has been set.

Kunco has denied the new allegations and is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing in McKees Rocks on Sept. 28.

His lawyers said there is no evidence to support the new allegations and that since his release Kunco was hired as a maintenance worker at a Pittsburgh grocery and restaurant.

“Mr. Kunco’s behavior since his May release has been exemplary, and Mr. Kunco respectfully requests that the court look to the entirety of his record and his history before this court in conjunction with the shocking presentation of the recent allegations,” his lawyers wrote.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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