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Lemon Grove Man Accused in Rape Case Enters Not Guilty Plea

Landscaper Michael John Kobulnicky, 50, was ordered held on $500,000 bail.

A former spokesman for the San Diego Tea Party pleaded not guilty today to charges that he abducted a pedestrian in Linda Vista and took her to Fiesta Island, where he allegedly raped her.

Michael John Kobulnicky, who was arrested last Thursday as he was walking near his Lemon Grove apartment, 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, 50, 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, the defendant is a former spokesman for the San Diego Tea Party. The organization said in a statement that Kobulnicky took a hiatus in January for personal reasons that were not disclosed.

Kobulnicky, who worked as a landscaper, 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.

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.

A status conference was set for March 26 and a preliminary hearing for April 3.

—City News Service

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