O.C. judge charged with child molestation
January 10, 2002
GREG HARDESTY
The Orange County Register


Alleged incidents occurred between 1976 and 1978.

IRVINE -- An Orange County Superior Court judge who was already facing federal charges of possessing child pornography was today arrested and charged with four counts of child molestation.

Ronald Kline, 61, was arrested at his Irvine home early this morning. He later posted $100,000 bail on state charges that he performed oral copulation on a minor between October 1976 and October 1978. The state filed four counts against Kline, who has been a judge since 1995.

The alleged molestation began when the victim, a neighborhood boy who Kline befriended, was 12 years old. If convicted on the state charges, Kline faces up to 14 years in prison. He will be arraigned on February 6 .

The state charges were filed after the alleged victim came forward after reading news accounts that Kline was facing federal child pornography charges. Kline was charged on Nov. 9 with six felony counts of possessing child pornography, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

A 1999 state law allows police to charge people with sexual crimes dating back decades, if there is corroboration. The normal statute of limitations does not apply in this case.

Kline has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges. He will make a formal plea on the state charges next month. "We will enter a plea of not guilty," said Paul S. Meyer, the judge's attorney.

Kline has indicated that he would run for re-election to the bench. But Gay Sandoval, a Costa Mesa lawyer and child advocate, has been organizing a write-in campaign to fill the post with a different person.