Michael John Kobulnicky, accused rapist, and Laura S. Chiles, rape victim
March 17, 2012 (Lemon Grove)—Lemon Grove resident Michael John Kobulnicky, 50, a leader in the San Diego Tea Party and former regional director of the Southern California Conservative Party, is under arrest for allegedly kidnapping and raping a local woman on Fiesta Island. He was arrested last Thursday as he was walking near his Lemon Grove apartment, and faces life in prison if convicted of one count each of kidnapping for rape and forcible rape and two counts of forcible rape with a foreign object -- all felonies.
Kobulnicky allegedly spotted the woman about 7 p.m. Feb. 25 while driving on Linda Vista Road, pulled over and asked her if she wanted a ride home, SDPD Lt. Anastasia Smith said.
The 56-year-old woman accepted the offer and got into Kobulnicky's vehicle, Smith said. When they reached her residence, however, he kept driving and continued into the Mission Bay area, according to the lieutenant.
After parking on Fiesta Island, the 6-foot-3-inch, 205-pound suspect allegedly pulled the victim out of the vehicle and sexually assaulted her. He then drove off, leaving her behind. (Editorial Note: This was a very poor choice of words!)
The woman walked to a trolley station and reported the attack to police.
After the woman immediately reported the alleged crimes, and investigators gathered evidence, including surveillance video. Six days later, detectives released some of the footage to local news outlets, and the resulting publicity generated "numerous" tips that helped detectives identify Kobulnicky as the alleged assailant, Smith said.
“He dragged her out of the car and sexually assaulted her pretty brutally,” San Diego Police Lt. Andra Brown told Channel 10 News in late February, shortly after the February 25 assault occurred.
Video surveillance of the suspect before the attack was obtained from a convenience store, the location of which is not being disclosed, Smith said. Police released the video on March 2 and received numerous tips that led them to Kobulnicky, she said. Here is a still frame from that surveillance video.
Kobulnicky was ordered held on $500,000 bail. Deputy District Attorney Renee Palermo unsuccessfully asked Judge David Szumowski to double the amount, calling the defendant "a danger to the public".
According to his website, Kobulnicky supports Christian values, is a father of five sons, and is co-founder and president of the National Council of Americans, Inc, a nonprofit that helps youths. He also lists prior employment as faculty at California Miramar University, teacher and coach at Val Verde Unified School District, manager of a landscape design company, and more.
His Facebook page indicates he became engaged in early March and planned to be married in April. Kobulnicky, who is divorced, was accused of domestic violence in 2008, San Diego Superior Court records indicate.
Prosecutors dropped the charges against a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Fiesta Island.
Michael Kobulnicky, a former San Diego Tea Party spokesperson and Mormon Church leader, had faced charges of kidnapping and sexual assault for a sexual encounter that he said was consensual. Prosecutors dropped all charges Thursday morning.
Kobulnicky said he lost his job as a result of the incident, and had to cancel his wedding. He said both himself and his fiance "went through hell" during the ordeal. He since married the fiance, but they are now divorced.
"The police department went with the best information that we had and the forensic evidence and in a complete investigation we did the best job that we could, and that of course included the arrest of Mr. Kobulnicky," said San Diego Police Department spokesperson Lt. Andra Brown. "We don't understand why [the victim] changed her stories, but we do understand the district attorney's actions."
Here are just a few of the problems with the dismissal of the charges against Kobulnicky, based upon the facts of the case. After all, Kobulnicky admitted that he had sex with the victim, but claimed it was consensual.
• The DA was apparently convinced enough with the defendant’s guilt that he remained in custody for several days after the victim reversed her testimony.
• Why didn’t the two of them go to his or her home instead of driving miles away in order to have sex on the beach?
• Why didn’t he take her back home instead of just dumping her on the beach?
• Why did the victim identify Kobulnicky on the surveillance video?
• Does this woman look like something that a sane man would be willing to spend years in jail just to have sex on the beach with? Maybe he should have used the Insanity Defense.
• If Kobulnicky wasn't the rapist, then either she wasn't raped at all and filed a false police report, or a second guy raped her after she had consensual sex with Kobulnicky. Anything is possible, but this option would be almost unbelievable.
One does not have to have seen many episodes of “CSI:Fiesta Island” to suspect that money changed hands in order to get the victim to change her testimony. Her friends subsequently stated that she had told them that she hoped to make some money from this ordeal. After all, if somebody offered her $10,000 or more to rethink her testimony, she might have been willing to do just that. We will probably never know.