Fencing Instructor Accused of Assaulting Teens Dies in Jail

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A fencing instructor in New Jersey who is accused of sexual assault died in law enforcement custody over the weekend, Nj.com reported.

Stephen M. Kovacs, 49, was facing charges related to the sexual assault of two teenage girls. Kovacs’ attorney Jim Wronko confirmed that Kovacs died at the Somerset County Jail over the weekend.

Kovacs was being held at the Somerset County jail since shortly after his bail was revoked in December, Wronko told Nj.com. Kovacs was scheduled for a court hearing Tuesday, where Wronko planned to enter a not-guilty plea on his client’s behalf.

Wronko did not specify to Nj.com how Kovacs died.

Nj.com also reported that the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment on Kovacs’ death. The sheriff’s office couldn’t immediately be reached. The state Office of the Attorney General didn’t respond to a request from NJ Advance Media.

Kovacs was indicted on two counts each of sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child as well as false swearing, Wronko said.

The investigation into Kovacs began in September when a 16-year-old reported that Kovacs picked her up at home and then drove her to a parking lot in Bridgewater to sexually assault her on three occasions in August, authorities said.

In September, Kovacs provided “temporary shelter” at the girl’s Somerset County home for five nights, according to an affidavit of probable cause in support of the charges against him. On at least three of those nights, Kovacs sexually assaulted her, authorities said. He also sexually assaulted her in Bound Brook days later, authorities alleged.

Detectives arrested Kovacs on Oct. 13 and he was released six days later after a detention hearing, the prosecutor said. 

The former owner of Kaprica United Fencing Academy in Bridgewater, Kovacs had been sent back to jail because a judge ruled Dec. 10 that he violated a no-contact order through his use of a Spotify playlist and personal YouTube account.

Soon after, Kovacs informed SafeSport that he had an inappropriate relationship with minor, authorities said. Safesport is a nonprofit organization that works to prevent the abuse of minor athletes, according to court documents. 

The coach also emailed the girl’s parents and told them he planned to “sell his business and leave so they would not have to worry about him anymore,” according to court documents.

A second teen then came forward and told investigators about sexual assaults more than two years ago, authorities said. She said Kovacs sent her a sexually explicit video in January 2020, authorities said. The teen also said he sexually assaulted her multiple times during the year in Bound Brook, authorities said.

Kovacs is a former assistant coach at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and a former head coach at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, according to a biography on the Duke athletics website, Nj.com reported. He was a standout fencer while competing at Columbia University before working as an assistant coach at The Pingry School in Somerset County. He also served as coach of the Ridge High School boys fencing team.

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