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Muir P.E. teacher accused of molesting boy on overnight trip

BURBANK -- An arrest warrant was issued Tuesday for a longtime John

Muir Middle School teacher accused of fondling a 12-year-old boy during a

youth group outing on Catalina Island, authorities said.

Burbank resident Ron Kurtz, 59, was charged Tuesday with one felony

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charge of committing a lewd act with a child under 14 and one misdemeanor

charge of development and duplication of obscene matter, said Deputy

Dist. Atty. Christopher Frisco.

Kurtz’ lawyer, Stephen Klarich, said his client, who is on

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administrative leave from the school district, is innocent.

“My client is completely in the dark with who this victim might be,”

Klarich said. “He’s devastated.”

Authorities allege that Kurtz, who has taught physical education for

the Burbank Unified School District since 1963, fondled a 12-year-old boy

on Oct. 3 during a weekend trip to Catalina with the Dolphin Club, said

L.A. County Sheriff’s Det. Danny Coon. The incident allegedly occurred at

night while the unidentified boy was in bed.

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“The boy was awake when he did it, however he did not confront Mr.

Kurtz,” Coon said.

A tip from another boy who claimed Kurtz fondled him on an earlier

trip to Las Vegas prompted the investigation, police said. No charges

have been filed as a result of those allegations.

On Oct. 7, Burbank Police detectives found obscene materials during a

search of Kurtz’ home, said Burbank Police Lt. Don Brown. He declined to

say what the materials were.

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A copy of the search warrant lists several different items that

detectives seized including two computers, a video camera, rolls of film,

a videotape labeled “Dolphin Summer 99,” a “photo book title ‘The Boy”’

and “sign up sheets for trips.”

Klarich said his client will probably turn himself in for arraignment

at San Pedro Municipal Court on Thursday. At that time he will deny the

charges against him and ask to be released on his own recognizance, he

said.

Brown said a flier for the Dolphin Club said it’s purpose is “to serve

the community and the YMCA through Christian service.” However, Brown

said officials at the Burbank YMCA told him the organization has not been

affiliated with the Dolphins for about nine years.

George Saikli, the director of the Burbank YMCA, said the organization

was talking with Kurtz about three or four months ago about the

possibility of starting up the Dolphin Club again but that the

organization never received any membership applications.

“We are not affiliated with the Dolphin Club,” Saikli said.

Brown said the flier indicated the group is for boys in sixth, seventh

and eighth grades and the number of members could not exceed 15.

In the 1999 Muir Middle School yearbook, a picture of Kurtz with

members of the Dolphin Club was featured on the Campus Club page.

However, David Aponik, the district’s superintendent, denied that the

club was a school-sponsored organization.

“My discussions with the chief of police is that the allegations were

not during school-related activities,” Aponik said.

Kurtz has been on a paid administrative leave since Oct. 11, he said.

On Thursday, the board will discuss placing Kurtz on a mandatory

suspension without pay until the case is decided.

Aponik said the district has never received any complaints about Kurtz

in his 36-year career in Burbank.

If he is found guilty, Kurtz faces a maximum of eight years in prison

for the felony charge and not more than a year in county jail and a

maximum fine of $2,000 for the misdemeanor charge, Frisco said.


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