Radio talk show takes aim at judge
Outside his home, KFI broad casts a four-hour forum on Ronald C. Kline, who faces a molestation charge.

February 1, 2002

The Orange County Register

The neighbors on the Rimrock cul-de-sac in Irvine arrived in spurts: boys bearing skateboards, mothers pushing strollers, kids bouncing balls.

But this was no barbecue.

The object of their attention was a judge under fire, who remained silent behind the doors of his handsome home in Turtle Rock.

It is a community that abhors attention. But Thursday, the folks on Rimrock were getting it - much to the dismay of many.

Neighbors spread the word to park on the street and to put out their trash bins to discourage onlookers. That didn't stop about 50 people from gathering for a four- hour forum on Judge Ronald C. Kline.

"It's a sad thing, just to have all this going on," said Diane Wyluda, who has lived across from Kline for about two years. She called him a quiet man who keeps to himself.

Kline, charged with child molestation and possession of child pornography, did not respond to three doorbell rings Thursday afternoon, when a major radio station broadcast live outside his home.

The gabfest, hosted by KFI talk radio's "John and Ken" (John Kobylt and Ken Shiampou), focused on Kline's upcoming re-election bid and whether he should resign instead of continuing to earn his $136,244 salary while being prosecuted.

"This guy may be innocent, and if he is, he could always run for judge again someday,'' said Kobylt, who also took his show to the street after the wives of O.J. Simpson and actor Robert Blake were slain.

"We're not looking to shut down Kline's street," Kobylt said before the broadcast. "We're just looking to bring awareness that there are other options on the ballot."

Kline, 61, an Orange County Superior Court judge since 1995, was arrested in November after authorities said they found more than 100 images of nude boys on his home computer, as well as an electronic diary that allegedly described Kline's lust for young males.

He pleaded not guilty.

Federal authorities ordered the jurist to stay at home and wear an electronic monitor. With court approval, he can leave for doctor visits and other appointments.

Paul S. Meyer, Kline's attorney, declined to comment on the judge's whereabouts during the 3-7 p.m. broadcast.

The noted defense attorney ridiculed the KFI show.

"It's disrupting a neighborhood for a promotional stunt," Meyer said.

Kline was arrested a second time, on Jan. 10, on state charges that he molested a 14-year-old boy 25 years ago.

His trial on the federal charges is to start June 4, and he is scheduled to enter a plea to the state charges Feb. 6.

Several write-in candidates who will oppose Kline at the polls March 5 blasted their opinions into wireless microphones to a radio audience estimated at 500,000.

Write-in candidates rarely win, but if Kline were to get less than 50 percent of the vote, there would be a runoff.

"I think this raises community awareness, but whether it will help one (write-in) candidate, I doubt it," said Terese S. Oliver, a candidate.

People walking dogs and pushing strollers continued to drift in and out of the neighborhood, barricaded by police, until the show's bitter- cold end.

Lorrie Williams, 45, of Lake Forest hobbled up the block on crutches at 6 p.m. after hearing the broadcast.

"It was worth the effort if I can assist in preventing (Kline) from being elected," she said, a cast on one foot.

One neighbor welcomed Thursday's commotion.

"I totally support what they're doing here," said Cathy Eusey, 40. "There ought to be a law about (Kline) being on the ballot."

A 16-year-old boy, a neighbor, urged caution about judging the judge before he is tried.

"A lot of these people here don't know him well," said Nick Miede, a neighbor of Kline's for about eight years. "These are accusations. He's innocent until proven guilty. Just to slander his name is not going to achieve anything."