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Officer who took kids' photos probed

Off-duty lawman had a camera at O.C. festival. He was tackled by an ex-congressman's son.

June 02, 2007|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

An off-duty Los Angeles police officer who raised suspicions by the way he photographed children at an Orange County festival is being investigated by his employer and Garden Grove police, authorities said Friday.

Ralph C. Lakin, who works at Los Angeles Police Department's Parker Center administrative headquarters, was tackled last weekend by a 5-yearold girl's father, who held him until Garden Grove police arrived.

Mark Dornan, the girl's father, said Garden Grove police told him that they found more than 100 images of children on Lakin's digital camera at the annual Strawberry Festival.

Dornan is the son of former Republican Rep. Robert K. Dornan.

Garden Grove police told The Times on Tuesday that they found nothing illegal and that the investigation was closed. However, Lt. Dennis Ellsworth said Friday that detectives were continuing to work on the case.

Los Angeles police said Internal Affairs was pursuing an administrative investigation of Lakin's actions to determine whether he had violated department policies.

Spokesman Sgt. Lee Sands said the officer continues to work at Parker Center. The department rejected a request to interview Lakin.

Dornan, a brawny, 6-foot-plus man, tackled Lakin and wrestled away the camera after someone told him that a man was taking photos of his daughter. Dornan said he followed Lakin and saw him photographing under a young girl's light-blue dress.

He said that when he tackled Lakin, he put his hand on the officer's weapon, which was concealed under his shirt. "The odd thing was when I took him down he never said a word," Dornan said.

Garden Grove police took the gun. Lakin was questioned and released. Police eventually took the camera.

Dornan said when he looked at the camera's digital photos, the first one was of his daughter in a wagon, taken half a mile from the fair. He said he didn't find a photo of the other girl.

The Orange County Register reported that a woman who ran a booth at the fair said she saw the photographer aim his camera up Dornan's daughter's skirt.

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david.reyes@latimes.com

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