Update March 25th: Evidence surfacing that indicates either the rape charges are false or that police may have arrested the wrong perpetrator. See updated post HERE.
KNSD Channel 39 now reports that Michael Kobulnicky "belongs to the Latter Day Saints ward in La Mesa where he was a leader, teaching young children the Book of Mormon", which means he's either a Primary teacher or a Sunday School teacher. Primary is designed for young children from 18 months to eleven years old, and is their first exposure to formal religious instruction.
Kobulnicky became newsworthy when he was arrested near his home in Lemon Grove on March 15th, 2012 for the alleged kidnapping and assault of a 56-year-old woman who was walking home near Linda Vista Road on Fiesta Island on February 25th. Police allege Kobulnicky pulled over to offer the woman a ride home, but instead of actually taking her home he drove her to Fiesta Island where he sexually assaulted her in the car, and then left her on the island. The probable cause for the arrest is a surveillance video in which a man bearing a strong resemblance to Kobulnicky is shown. Hpwever, the video merely shows that Kobulnicky was in the area at the time; it does not show the assault, so it remains a "she said-he said" proposition at this point.
Kobulnicky faces four felony charges, including kidnapping for rape, forcible rape, and rape by foreign object; conviction on all four charges could bring life in prison. His next court appearance is set for March 26th. He is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail and has pleaded not guilty on all charges. Because the LDS Church respects the presumption of innocence, it will not take steps against Kobulnicky's membership at this time, although his bishop might release him from his Primary calling as a precaution.
Although Kobulnicky's attorney Heather Melone reveals that everyone she's talked to has said the allegations are extremely out of character for her client, according to UTSanDiego, Kobulnicky recently underwent divorce proceedings beginning in October 2010 from a San Diego woman who had obtained a restraining order against him. In the documents, the wife claimed that Kobulnicky had been violent with her and threatened bad things if she tried to divorce him. However, his wife had withdrawn a previous restraining order against him in 2008, claiming that Kobulnicky was merely experiencing side effects caused by Prednisone, which a doctor prescribed after he had surgery.
Nevertheless, some are beginning to distance themselves from Kobulnicky. At one time, Kobulnicky served as a spokesperson for the San Diego Tea Party, but the Tea Party organization says he has been on hiatus since January 2012 for personal reasons and has been relieved from his Tea Party duties during legal proceedings. On one occasion, Kobulnicky also volunteered to work with GenerateHope, a recovery program for sexually-exploited women, but that organization now says he helped renovate the facility and should not be considered an "official" GenerateHope volunteer.
Reaction: A number of Tea Party sympathizers are taking Glenn Beck to task on The Blaze for reporting Kobulnicky's Tea Party affiliation. Like it or not, that's newsworthy, and just because the left will make political hay out of it doesn't make it any less newsworthy. Rational people know that if Kobulnicky proves to be guilty, his behavior is not representative of the Tea Party. Some commenters also take NBC San Diego to task for imprecise reporting about the LDS Church:
BarackStalin, March 19th, 2012 at 2:31pm (The Blaze):
If this guy is guilty, then he should hang.
But does anyone find it suspicious that just days after a left-wing political activist was arrested in San Diego for sexual misconduct, a right-wing political activist is arrested for sexual misconduct…
That photo could be him, but it could also be about 10,000 other people in San Diego…it sure doesn’t look conclusive to me. Is it possible that police released this photo and some people who wanted it to be this guy identified it as this guy?
I don’t know. This article just says the public identified him from the grainy photo shown…Certainly they must have more evidence that is not mentioned in the article right?…right?
I’m not defending him. If he’s guilty show no mercy…but I’d feel better if the article said “the victim identified him” instead of “tips from the public identified him”.
Christina Harrison, March 19th 2012, 8:54 P.M. (NBC San Diego):
I will say this again and again, Mike was wrongfully accused. This is not in his character to do such a horrible thing. I truly hope the investigators in this case will research the character of the woman claiming to be raped by him.
Kathy Horeth, March 21st 2012, 8:03 A.M. (NBC San Diego):
Being a church leader does not describe his position in the church correctly - from what you say in this article - he is simply a Sunday School teacher...not a church leader....fyi.
Brian Casaday, March 21st 2012, 9:00 A.M. (NBC San Diego):
It suggests he may have been a primary teacher, as he taught "young children." Not to belittle any responsibility in the LDS church, but if primary teacher qualifies as a church leader, how many Mormons are not "Mormon Church Leaders?" I think it's just a way to exaggerate the headlines to get more viewers.