A founding member of the pop-punk band New Found Glory has been charged with several counts of lewd act upon a child, stemming from online activity he allegedly had with underage girls, San Luis Obispo Superior Court records show.
Steve Klein, who played guitar and wrote lyrics for the band, has pleaded not guilty in the case. The 34-year-old Atascadero resident is free on bail.
He has been charged with seven felonies, which allege the online incidents occurred between 2010 and 2012 with victims who were 14 and 15 years old. The charges include five counts of lewd act on a child, plus one count of contact with a minor with intent to commit a sex offense and one count of possession of child pornography.
The case came to the attention of authorities when Klein’s now-ex-wife called police, having allegedly seen evidence of Klein’s online activity.
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Klein’s attorney, Debra White, did not return calls to The Tribune. But in a statement released to Alternative Press, she stressed that Klein “is not accused of having any lewd actual physical contact with any minor.” White also said she believes Klein is innocent.
“Steve is devastated by these accusations,” the statement read. “He has lost his band, and his ex-wife continues to push for full custody of his children using this case as her pawn while he literally fights for his life.”
According to court records, Klein’s divorce proceedings began here in 2012.
The District Attorney’s Office is not commenting on the case at this time. A search warrant filed with the court to seize evidence from Klein’s home has been sealed.
Details from the prosecution’s case will be presented during a preliminary hearing set for April 10.
Last December, Klein was dropped from the band, which issued a statement on its official website that attributed the split to creative reasons.
“We’ve had our differences with Steve over the years that have led us to this decision,” the band posted. “We love Steve however personal differences have guided this decision and we no longer feel we can work with him.”
On March 12, after charges were filed, the band issued a new statement on its Facebook page, saying the split had been related to the criminal allegations.
“Upon our return from Warped Tour Australia, Steve made us aware of possible allegations that might be made against him,” the band wrote. “At that point, not knowing all the details, we made the decision to part ways in order for him to deal with these personal issues.”
New Found Glory has been compared to acts such as Blink-182 and Simple Plan. The band, which began in Coral Springs, Fla., has had videos on regular rotation at MTV, they’ve headlined the Vans Warped Tour, and they’ve notched three gold albums (million selling or more). Their songs, which typically appeal to teen audiences, often deal with relationships and identity.
The band continues to tour without Klein.