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Ex-Bay Area professor's guilty plea to infant sex abuse is set aside

October 31, 2013|By James Barragan

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals this week set aside the 37 1/2-year prison sentence of a former Cal State East Bay professor who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a woman's infant daughter multiple times.

In setting aside the prison term for Kenneth Kyle, along with his guilty plea, the appellate court on Wednesday ruled that the sentencing judge had interfered with plea negotiations by promising a life term if the case went to trial and he was convicted.

In stating that he would give Kyle a life sentence, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco became involved in the plea negotiations, which violated federal regulations, the federal appeals court ruled.

The appellate court's action Wednesday does not mean Kyle will go free. Instead, the panel reassigned the case to a different judge for a new trial, where he could receive a shorter sentence, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Kyle was convicted in March 2012 of sexually abusing an infant in Missouri beginning when she was five months old, according to the NBC Bay Area affiliate. Kyle and the child's mother, Tessa Van Vlerah of Ballwin, Mo., molested the infant in hotel rooms for several months in 2009. Van Vlerah said Kyle filmed the molestations, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Kyle, who was 46 at the time, was arrested in 2010 when authorities said they found child pornography on his computer, the Chronicle reported.

Van Vlerah, who pleaded guilty in Missouri to sexual abuse and incest, continues to serve a sentence of 30 years to life.

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Twitter: @James_Barragan

james.barragan@latimes.com

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