YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Region

Unsigned E-Mail to Web Site Led to Judge's Arrest

Crime: Tipster to a now-defunct pedophilia watchdog site included excerpts allegedly from a diary of Ronald C. Kline, now charged with possession of child porn.


An anonymous e-mail sent to a watchdog Web site in March prompted authorities to begin investigating an Orange County Superior Court judge who has been charged with possessing child pornography, police said Monday.

The e-mail accusing Judge Ronald C. Kline of keeping illegal pictures on his home computer was sent to, a Colorado-based site that tracks online sex offenders, according to Irvine police and the operator of the Web site. The one-woman operation started in 1996 has since shut down, citing a loss of ads since Sept. 11.

The tipster also e-mailed excerpts from a diary allegedly written by Kline that detailed a strong interest in young boys, authorities said. The tip did not identify Kline as a judge but mentioned that he lived in Irvine, according to Web site operator Julie Posey.

She said she made her own inquiries to see if the correspondence was a hoax. When she discovered that Kline did, indeed, live in Irvine, she passed the e-mail to state and local investigators in July.

Posey said she still does not know the identity of the tipster, who claimed not to know Kline. Irvine police said they know the person's identity but declined to disclose it.

Lt. Sam Allevato said detectives and a task force of federal and district attorney's investigators spent months working to confirm the e-mail.

He said detectives used great care in building their case, knowing that it would come under immense scrutiny.

"Obviously, you're dealing with a very high-profile suspect here, and you want to make sure the information is accurate and that we proceeded lawfully," Allevato said.

Based in part on the contents of the e-mail, detectives executed a search warrant at Kline's home Nov. 5. Police discovered a diary in which Kline allegedly wrote about his sexual attraction to teenage boys and visits to shopping malls, Little League games and the shower area of an athletic club.

Investigators discovered five images downloaded from the Internet onto computer diskettes showing young boys in sexually explicit acts, court records show.

On Friday, federal prosecutors charged Kline with one count of possession of child pornography, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. A federal judge ordered Kline detained at home pending the outcome of the case.

Kline declined to discuss the case Monday, referring all calls to his attorneys, who could not be reached for comment. Kline is running unopposed for reelection next spring.

Los Angeles Times Articles