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
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
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.
“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.
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
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.