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Carbon man given state prison term for sexual assault counts

A Carbon County man was sentenced on Thursday afternoon to a state prison term on sexual assault counts for which he previously entered guilty pleas.

John Kuhns, 45, formerly of Weissport, but who has been in the county prison for the past two and a half years, was sentenced by Judge Steven R. Serfass to serve 21 to 60 months in a state correctional institution on a charge of corruption of a minor. He was also sentenced on three other counts.

In May, just before he was scheduled to go on trial in the county court, Kuhns entered into a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office and pleaded guilty to corruption of a minor, one felony 3; and two of counts of corruption of a minor, rated as misdemeanor 1s, and indecent assault, a misdemeanor 2. In exchange for the plea, counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault were dropped.

Defense attorney Eric Wiltrout, of the public defender’s office, said the crimes Kuhns committed were inexcusable, but asked the court to sentence him at the lower end of the state sentencing guidelines. He noted that Kuhns had already spent 844 days in prison on the charges. Kuhns has been in the prison since his arrest in July 2019.

At the time of his arrest on the charges, Kuhns was a registered sex offender and had violated the conditions of his parole by not registering per Megan’s Law. He was charged with that count and also pleaded to the charge.

State police at Lehighton said Kuhns sexually assaulted a girl while she slept over with friends at his home.

A then-15-year-old girl told police that Kuhns sexually assaulted her on the night of July 5, 2019, as she slept over at his home along with a sibling and Kuhns’ children.

The victim answered questions from police following Kuhns’ arrest. She told police that on the night of July 5, Kuhns had smoked marijuana with the teens at his home. She said she fell asleep on a couch. She woke up to find Kuhns was sexually assaulting her. She told police that throughout the assault she pretended to remain asleep. Kuhns stopped because he wanted her to go upstairs with him. When she pretended to remain asleep, he threatened to assault her again.

She said Kuhns continued to make remarks about assaulting her until she said “no.” He responded that she should not tell anyone about the assault. She submitted to a rape kit, which troopers sent to be processed at a state laboratory.

Kuhns’ children said they had no knowledge of the incident and denied smoking marijuana with Kuhns.

While in custody, Kuhns allowed police to search his home. They found marijuana in his room and marijuana residue in a container in his children’s room.

During an interview with police, Kuhns said he smoked marijuana on July 5, but did not smoke with the teenagers.

Kuhns is a registered sex offender, having been convicted of sexual offenses in Virginia.

Kuhns declined to speak when asked by Serfass if he had anything to say.

Serfass noted that Kuhns cooperated with police in the investigation and was remorseful for his actions. But he added he still had to consider what effect the case had on the victim.

In addition to the prison term, Kuhns was also ordered to submit to a sexual offender’s evaluation, have no contact with the victim, have no unsupervised contact with minors, supply a DNA sample and pay court costs of over $1,000.

By stipulation, Kuhns was declared a sexually violent predator and must register for the rest of his life as a sexual offender.

He was given credit for 844 days already served. Although the credit given is more than his minimum sentence, he will be transferred to a state prison. The state department of corrections will determine his parole date.