Pleaded guilty to lewdness in incident with exchange student
May 30, 2013
Written by Deborah M. Marko
VINELAND — As part of a plea agreement, a former volunteer Vineland High School assistant girls’ basketball coach pleaded guilty Wednesday to a lewdness offense admitting he exposed himself to a male foreign exchange student at his home.
John T. Kinka is now required to meet with a psychologist for an evaluation and is prohibited from any role in which he volunteers, mentors or coaches anyone under the age of 18 during a one-year probation, according the plea deal reached with the Vineland Municipal Court.
The charge stems from a Jan. 26 incident in which Kinka, who was a volunteer with the ASSE International foreign exchange program, had two visiting students stay at his Vineland home for a weekend.
The teens, assigned to a host family in Delaware, were Kinka’s overnight guests so they could attend a representative training conference in Atlantic County to give testimonials about their foreign exchange experience.
While at his home, the teens charged that Kinka exposed his genitals to one of them, requested to see him naked and unsuccessfully tried to pull down his pants, according to police reports filed about the incident.
After the students fled the home, they were spotted by a police officer about 4 a.m. who took them to the police station where they were picked up by their host family. The host family contacted ASSE officials about the incident, which was not initially reported to the police. ASSE, noting students were initially concerned they would be removed from the exchange program, notified the police about what the teens told them transpired in Kinka’s residence, according to ASSE officials contacted after Kinka’s arrest.
Last year, ASSE officials noted Kinka, a volunteer since the 2007-08 school year, was an organization representative serving as a contact for more than two-dozen students. He had a “exemplary record“ and passed three annual criminal background checks, according the organization’s records.
The Vineland school board removed Kinka as a volunteer coach after his arrest.
Initially, Kinka had entered a not guilty plea to the two counts of lewdness. Standing beside his attorney, Vincent Pancari, in Vineland Municipal Court Wednesday Kinka agreed to retract that.
Under the plea agreement, Kinka pleaded guilty to one charge of lewdness and a second lewdness charge was dismissed.
He was sentenced to one year probation and required to undergo an evaluation by a psychologist. Pancari noted the psychologist would be provided with the police reports and statements of the foreign exchange students.
The psychologist will be asked to determine if Kinka is a danger to himself or others as well as if he is in need of treatment Pancari said. If treatment is deemed necessary, Kinka agreed to complete it.
Kinka was also fined $257 and about $150 in court-related costs.
Municipal Prosecutor Inez Acosta said she spoke to the exchange students, who were present in court, and they told her “that the sentence is appropriate.”
They voiced concern that they didn’t want a similar incident to happen anyone else who might be placed in Kinka’s trust, Acosta said.
Reviewing the plea agreement with Kinka, Pancari asked him if did expose himself to one of the foreign exchange students identified in court by his initials.
“Yes,” Kinka said.
If Kinka should violate the terms of the plea agreement, Pancari explained he would be back to municipal court and could be sentenced on a disorderly person offense that carries the maximum sentence of about a year in jail.
Should Kinka comply with agreement, Pancari noted he could make a motion to vacate the balance of the probation after six months.
Acting Municipal Court Judge Nicholas Lacovara stated that Pancari said his client was “very sorry for this occurrence.”
Lacovara, noting Kinka was a first-time offender, said the sentence was “crafted primarily to make sure this did not happen again.”
Kinka has 20 days to file an appeal. He left court the room and paid his fines. He declined to comment.
An ASSE representative was in the courtroom. She referred inquiries to regional coordinator Sue Nelson, who could not be reached Wednesday evening.
2013 Jan 31: Coach charged with lewdness